Jurgen Klopp was not a happy bunny when speaking to reporters on Monday.
“Have we had the best preseason of our lives? I cannot say that with the results but the sessions were really good.”
Liverpool’s boss bristled when a journalist the FA Community Shield was called a “curtain-raiser” for the new season, as a poor preseason seems to be annoying the German coach a little.
Following a 3-0 defeat to Napoli in Edinburgh on Sunday, Liverpool have now lost three of their four marquee preseason friendlies with defeats against Borussia Dortmund and Sevilla and a draw against Sporting Lisbon in the USA. They’ve conceded 10 goals in those four games.
Klopp explained why the European champions have been struggling this summer, and the reasons are rather obvious on the face of things.
“I don’t want to find excuses before we play City. But we had a completely different preseason,” Klopp said. “We played without six players and to say this must be the statement for us would be completely mad.
“Good results in the pre-season help to build confidence but that’s not the most important thing. The most important thing is that you build the physical skills for a long, long season because we have to, pretty much, prepare only for the games. There’s not a lot of time to train.”
Klopp then went on to call Liverpool’s week in Evian, France as their “most important of the season” as stars return and the preparation all comes together.
“We had to do intense sessions in the first three weeks. We played the games in different circumstances,” Klopp said. “It’s always been clear Evian would be the most important week of the season, and we have five days after City before Norwich.”
Mohamed Salah, Naby Keita and Sadio Mane were involved in the Africa Cup of Nations, as the latter will return to Liverpool the week the season starts on Aug. 5. Alisson and Fabinho played for Brazil this summer in their Copa America success, while Xherdan Shaqiri has been struggling with an injury.
Given all of that, Klopp seemed a little concerned that his side could get a bit of a spanking against City on Sunday.
“It is a good test of the things that are there [in place]. We have to defend in a good way, because if you don’t defend well against City, we can get a proper knock,” Klopp added.
As for Man City, they have been without Sergio Aguero, Ederson, Gabriel Jesus, Riyad Mahrez and Fernandinho throughout preseason, as Pep Guardiola‘s men will go into Sunday’s traditional curtain-raiser (sorry, Jurgen…) as the favorites.
Liverpool’s squad is able to cope with some key absentees, as we saw that last season when Divock Origi, Shaqiri and Joe Gomez stepped in when needed. But with only two teenagers signed this summer (Harvey Elliott and Sepp van den Berg), is Klopp feeling the pressure to compete with City’s incredible squad depth?
With Salah, Mane, Firmino and Alisson only just arriving back in England after a long summer of tournaments, if you’re playing Liverpool early in the Premier League season you’ll probably be quite happy about that. But long-term, Liverpool will be just fine. A summer of not having superstars around is far from ideal, but the aforementioned names will soon get back up to speed and dominate PL games.
Below is Liverpool’s full squad for their week training in Evian, France before they play Man City on Sunday in the Community Shield.
Liverpool squad: Alexander-Arnold, Alisson, Brewster, Duncan, Elliott, Fabinho, Firmino, Gomez, Henderson, Hoever, Keita, Lallana, Larouci, Lewis, Lonergan, Lovren, Matip, Mignolet, Milner, Ojrzynski, Origi, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Robertson, Salah, Shaqiri, Van den Berg, Van Dijk, Wijnaldum, Wilson.