Boring Milner, Destroyer Of Perception...

He's hardworking, perhaps even underrated but, most of all, he'll always be boring James Milner. Not anymore, says Matt Stanger, amid talk of Milner playing the perfect hand...

Last Updated: 20/05/14 at 15:34 Post Comment

Latest Articles

The Pre-Season 'Is He Still There?' XI

Post comment

Featuring XI players who have been in pre-season action for Premier League clubs who you might be forgiven for forgetting. Like N'Zogbia, Boyata, Obertan and...

Plenty Of Reasons Why Lukaku's Worth It

Post comment

The mailbox defends Everton's enormous outlay on Romelu Lukaku, while we also have mails on Spurs and Suarez. Oh, and worrying about the new magic spray...

All Articles

In a list of the least fascinating Premier League footballers, James Milner must come close to the top. To some, that might be seen as a bad thing, but England's Mr Reliable is about as likely to be involved in a scandal as Joey Barton is to avoid one. While the talents and personalities of his peers are debated at length, this is a player who commands only one conversation. He's hardworking, perhaps even underrated but, most of all, he'll always be boring James Milner.

In an age when top-flight footballers are multi-dimensional figures of love and hate, Milner has remained a mystery. The use of that word is jarring, but how much do you actually know about a man who recently celebrated his second title with Manchester City? He's been around forever but rarely has his story been told. In truth it is a unique tale, with Milner both an anachronism whose personality disappears when he leaves the pitch, but also a prime example of the power of perception in the modern game. Almost everything we know about him is conjecture.

It's amusing conjecture too, which makes it all the more compelling. The Boring Milner parody account on Twitter is the most successful of its kind through the invention of a dull character discordant with football's drama. 'Manuel Pellegrini was upset that we drew. I said 'Don't be sad, it's a marathon not a sprint.' He said 'That is a very good point, James' is just one of many enjoyable anecdotes that haven't just filled in the gaps of Milner's persona, but composed his entire identity.

The success of @BoringMilner is founded on the prevalence of the idea that Milner is, well, boring, which is a strange view to hold of someone we know little about. But nowadays it seems compulsory to have an opinion on everything and everyone and, in the case of someone who is reluctant to tell us who he really is, we've been happy to create an image for him. Curiously, it is inextricable from his playing role. Milner is personified by his duties on the pitch more than any of his colleagues; doing the dirty work equals a dour disposition, the utility man who'd be installing home utilities had he not become a footballer.

However, on Monday this perception was dealt an irrevocable blow. Suddenly, the real James Milner got interesting. Suddenly, his parody account of some 230,000 followers had to take a back seat as its inspiration popped up on the Twitter trends bar above Michael Jackson - the King of Pop dethroned by a man whose alter ego celebrated City's title victory with eight cups of tea until the room started spinning.

The rumours of Milner's demand to leave Manchester City emphasise the rise in power of homegrown players, owing to their mandatory inclusion in Premier League and Champions League squads. That Milner has immediately been linked to Arsenal and Liverpool is not only an endorsement of his ability, but a sign of his necessity. To comply with the rules, clubs competing at the top of the game need an 'Englishman', and there are few more useful than Milner.

But this story stretches far deeper than another example of player power. Before Monday, we had what we think we knew; now we only know what we think. Despite convincing ourselves that Milner is a person we understand, a dependable figure in a game that is constantly changing, the ventriloquist is now more interesting than his Twitter dummy. There is even talk that Milner could become one of the highest-paid players at City, playing the perfect hand with only one year left on his contract.

Before Monday, the only thing for which Milner had ever served as an example was the need for pasty white Englishmen to wear factor 40 on their holidays. But now he is both a forebearer for the potential impact of homegrown rules as well as the destroyer of perception, the thing that drives daily discussion of the game's characters who, once upon a time, were merely footballers and nothing more.

Milner has remained resolutely uninteresting for 12 years of an illustrious career, but his main event is far more fascinating than most stories churned out by players who are happy to have their name in the media on a weekly basis. It's time to forget everything you think you know about football, because next season James Milner could be earning £200,000 a week for the champions. Try explaining that one, Boring Milner.

Matt Stanger - he's on the Twitter.

@kop_it, you're right, we need Milner, the club know that and it's even reported on here that he was set to be offered a new deal along with Hart, Kolarov, Dzeko & Nasri. Wages will not be an issue. Barry & Lescott are the last of those players signed on the silly wages, the wages needed to attract players to City from better teams. The wage cap we're not allowed to exceed included Tevez, Adebayor(I believe) & Balotelli's wages, also included the pay off for Mancini and his staff. 2012-13 wages were the highest they are predicted to ever be. I'm not Milner's biggest fan, but he must stay. He will be staying.
- zabbaman

Football365 Facebook Fan Page

The Football365 fan page is a great place to meet like minded people, have football related discussions and make new friends.

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

T

heyremind me of Utd's treble winning side. Swashbuckling and risk prone. We ha Jaap Stam to paper over the cracks at the back though. Not sure they have their Jaap yet.

HarryBoulton
New Striker Not Liverpool's Priority...

A

lexis Sanchez; too good for Liverpool, Stevie. :)

pires
Suarez 'too good for Arsenal'

T

he solution is to not feel sorry for any of Jabba, Gold or Sullivan. They're all deeply unpleasant and all deserve each other. If only West Ham would sign Barton and Suarez then no one would ever need to despise any other club.

spuzzell
The Strange Idea Of Sympathy For Big Sam

Latest Photos

Footer 365

Patrice Evra reveals he would have been Man Utd captain if he had stayed

Patrice Evra has revealed he would have been made captain if he had stayed at Manchester United.

Transfer news: Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers targets further signings

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers is hoping to further strengthen his squad ahead of the transfer deadline on September 1.

Transfer news: Jose Mourinho confirms Fernando Torres will stay at Chelsea

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has told Sky Sports News Fernando Torres will not be sold during this transfer window.

Mail Box

Plenty Of Reasons Why Lukaku's Worth It

The mailbox defends Everton's enormous outlay on Romelu Lukaku, while we also have mails on Spurs and Suarez. Oh, and worrying about the new magic spray...

Sterling Stuff And Other Friendly Thoughts

We have one reader reaching conclusions from last night's friendly while we have others discussing Romelu Lukaku's move to Everton. Oh and some swearing...

© 2014 British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media property