By James Miller – @JimmyMiller2608
Liverpool’s form heading into the new campaign has been questioned in the last few days having struggled throughout pre-season, most recently losing against Napoli.
The Italian side convincingly saw off Jürgen Klopp’s European Champions, dispatching them in Edinburgh. Since a dismal display for the Reds, numerous questions have been directed at the manager, with some suggesting there should have been further recruitment this summer.
Klopp has nevertheless stood firm in his summer approach, something that must be respected. The German has opted against splashing millions on a side which can hardly be improved.
Of course, pre-season is preparation for the upcoming campaign. It shouldn’t, however, be the basis of which a club’s expectations are formed from. The fact very much remains that Liverpool are the current Champions of Europe and boast one of the strongest squads in Europe.
Little under two months ago, the Reds triumphed in Madrid against Premier League rivals Tottenham Hotspur to secure a sixth European title. Admittedly, so far during pre-season there have been areas which could be considered below par in comparison to usual standards for the club.
But at this part of the season, it is more about accumulating valuable minutes, something which the likes of long-term absentees Rhian Brewster and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have done.
Amongst the downpour of disappointment, it should be taken into consideration the amazing work that this group – both of the players and staff – have achieved to date for the club. After coming agonisingly close to a first Premier League title, the strength that was shown to regroup and secure a Champions League victory highlighted the character within the club.
Although several clubs surrounding the Reds are set to invest fairly heavily this summer, the gap in quality that was established means that those clubs are still playing catch-up.
One thing to acknowledge is that Klopp has a squad that have moulded together, as well as a side that have finally experienced the feeling of winning. Not only blessed with ability, Liverpool are bless with mentality and a never say never attitude which stems from the manager himself.
Many questions were asked last season when Spurs refused to lash out in the transfer windows. But despite ending the season without a trophy, they portrayed themselves as a respectable side capable of competing at a high level.
Football isn’t all about money – it is highly reliant on management, leadership and unity. In an ideal world, wins against Borussia Dortmund, Sevilla and Napoli, would have been welcomed. Irrespective of that, pre-season has still provided plenty of positive talking points.
Rhian Brewster has been in fine form, and may arguably be in with a chance of starting against Norwich City in the absence of Roberto Firmino – who is yet to participate in pre-season, having won the Copa America with Brazil.
New recruit Sepp van den Berg, has also shown his ability in limited minutes do far. The Dutch defender is far from alone though in terms of young players, with fellow newcomer Harvey Elliott featuring on the same day as the club officially announced his signing.
The future is almost certainly bright for the club regardless of business activities. A blend of youth and experience looks promising and – thankfully – no major concerns have been reported amongst several first-team players that have been away with their countries this summer.
It would be hard to see this side – littered with some of the best players in Europe – not competing for silverware next season, regardless of their pre-season form.