Andy Robertson has had something of a meteoric rise since joining Liverpool four years ago, culminating in becoming a Premier League winner in 2020. His first book – Robbo: Now You’re Gonna Believe Us – follows the year-long journey from becoming Champions League winners in 2019 to that historic title win that saw Liverpool crowned champions of England for the first time in thirty years.
The book opens in the dressing room of the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid following Liverpool’s triumph over Tottenham in the final of the 2018/2019 Champions League, but Robertson explains that the seeds of that victory were actually sown twelve months previously when Liverpool were defeated 3-1 by Real Madrid in Kiev. That loss galvanised the team going into the following year’s competition and made the victory all the sweeter. Robertson takes readers inside the changing room in the immediate aftermath and onto the celebrations in Madrid and the parade in Liverpool. Whilst there is not really much in the way of fly-on-the-wall party antics, with what goes on behind closed doors staying behind closed doors in terms of celebrations, Robertson captures some of the more poignant and reflective moments in the chaos, highlighting just what it means to win.
And so on to the 2019/2020 campaign that would redefine Liverpool’s history and that of the current crop of players, and Robertson charts it every step of the way. He gives some insight into preseason and the novel methods Jurgen Klopp used in their training camp in Evian, as well as the camaraderie and rivalry between teammates when it comes to competitive sportsmen. Then it is into the season proper, which covers the European Super Cup, the opening games, national duty, the Club World Cup, fixture congestion, the FA Cup and Champions League runs, the emergence of COIVD and suspension of football and, of course, the charge towards Premier League victory. Insights into Robertson’s own views on some of the issues the media play up, including the debate over Liverpool’s presence in the Club World Cup and the fielding of a younger side in the FA Cup, are particularly interesting, and so too are the glimpses of the manager and other players from an insider’s perspective, seeing in snippets the interactions, the respect and friendships that make up a dressing room. The human side of the players, and Robertson in particular, also really comes across, especially in the more difficult moments beyond football, and it’s a refreshing reminder of another side of their lives and characters that takes place away from the camera lens.
Ultimately, this is a book in that depicts the incredible effort and determination that goes into winning one of the toughest leagues in world football, and those at the heart of it – the players, the managers, the backroom staff and the fans. It is also an insight into Robertson’s personal experience of this journey, from worries over injuries and family illness to reflections on his teammates and ‘rivalry’ with Trent Alexander Arnold, and, above all, the desire to improve and the will to win. One flaw, I find, in a lot of football autobiographies is that focusing on a whole career condenses even the most significant of moments, so this season-long view is a really appealing one. Naturally, there’s still a need to condense matters, but the book seems to cover all of the key moments and maintain a good balance of on-field and off-field action. The fact the book also charts a historic title-winning season is a bonus and will certainly resonate particularly with Liverpool fans, but, in truth, I think the whole approach of a player’s logging of a season is one that could work, and would be appealing, across the board, with each team having its own highs and lows, struggles and achievements, regardless of whether they win the league, finish mid-table or get relegated. So it would be great to see other books in this vein. As for Robertson’s tome, it’s a book that captures the essence of what it meant to be a Liverpool player – or a fan – in a season that was so momentous in so many ways.
(Reach Sport. March 2021. Paperback: 304 pages)