Despite us sitting top of the Premier League table with nine games gone, Kieran Tierney has suggested that a glance back 12 months proves no team’s campaign has been defined just yet.
We found ourselves in 10th position after the same amount of games last season, which goes to show that nothing has been decided with 29 matches remaining, but the Scotsman is enjoying being at the summit and wants to keep that feeling going as long as possible.
Reflecting on our impressive start, Kieran said: “It’s only been nine games and you can’t say anyone is anything after nine games. If you look at last year, we were down in the table and we climbed our way up, so there’s a long way to go and there’s no point in even thinking like that.
“You want to stay [at the top] of course; I’ve got a bit of experience at Celtic when we were expected to be at the top and stay on the top as well, so it is familiar in that way for me that the pressure is on you to stay there. The other teams are chasing you, and we want to keep that going as long as we can.”
When pushed on what would constitute a good campaign come May, he added: “Progress is the main thing. We’ve progressed every year so we want to keep progressing well. You just want to finish up as high as possible, and we know what we want and we’ll keep working towards it.”
"If the manager calls on me, I’m ready"
It’s been a stop-start campaign for Kieran, who was forced to play catch-up following an injury-hit pre-season and duke it out with Oleksandr Zinchenko and Takehiro Tomiyasu for starts. However, with so many games on the horizon between now and the World Cup in less than six weeks, he’s satisfied that he’s fit again and ready to take his opportunity when it comes.
“It’s been tough,” was his evaluation of the past few months. “I missed pre-season coming back from an injury, and the first game I played in was the Palace one - that was the first week of training that I had. I’ve just been trying to get minutes here and there so it’s been a tough start, but whether I’m first, second or third-choice, I’m just going to keep working hard and see where it takes me.
“I wouldn’t say [competition] motivates me more, as whether I’m the only left-back or there’s five left-backs, I’m still motivated to play and to do well. Day-to-day, nothing changes in my life; if I’m playing or not I’m just working as hard as I possibly can. I train hard, and if the manager calls on me, I’m ready.
“I want to play every game possible, when you don’t play like all footballers, you’re disappointed but when you get your chance, you just need to make sure you go and take it.”
"It’s all just come together and we’re one club, one unit"
Kieran was on the field for the final 10 minutes of our last league game against Liverpool on Sunday, on what was a memorable afternoon in a lively and raucous Emirates Stadium.
The 25-year-old admits that the support shown from the stands, especially in times of adversity, really is paying dividends, with all aspects of the club pulling in the same direction to drive us to the top of the table.
When asked about the atmosphere this season, he said: “I’d say it’s the best since I’ve been here and I think that’s a credit to all the fans, and the players and the staff. It just feels like it has clicked - everybody has come together.
“You hear reactions after we concede goals, you very rarely hear that in football. Our fans ended up drowning out the Liverpool fans after they scored, just to try and cheer us on, go again and try and get another goal. I think you need that.
“It’s been building, even last season you could see it’s been getting better and better between the players, the staff and the fans, and this season it’s all just come together and we’re one club, one unit.”