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Matchday: Liverpool v. Grasshopper

Okay, seriously this time---Liverpool are playing their first friendly.



Degen Ayala Kelly Darby
Lucas Spearing
Amoo Aquilani Eccleston

Bench: Gulacsi, Irwin, Palsson, Robinson, Shelvey, Ince, Dalla Valle, Riera


Team sheet when it's released.

In the run-up:

I haven't read anything yet today about the skies opening up in Switzerland, so we're left to assume that Liverpool's preseason will officially get underway later in the day.

As was the case for the match against Al-Hilal, we can expect that Roy Hodgson will use plenty of younger players in the side tonight along with a few of the regular first-teamers that haven't been in action all summer. Even with the arrival of the three England internationals and Joe Cole, this one's going to be all about giving the academy and reserves players some time.

Which is something that Hodgson spoke on in another lengthy interview with the official site. It's worth a read on the whole, but I scraped off some of the quotes I found most interesting below:

On the mood around the club and reading the Liverpool Offside:

"You don't change doom and gloom or disenchantment with a signing or two. Liverpool Football Club has always been famous for the passion of its supporters and the knowledge of its supporters and they know I can't put right the disenchantment with a couple of words or by signing a football player. What we can do is hopefully persuade them we are on the right track, that we're trying to get things right again and that we're looking for new investment."

On showing instead of telling:

"There's a lot more work to do, a lot more players needed and we as a football team have got to make certain that when we take the field the supporters see there is something different and that we are making the biggest effort we can make. Then we can only hope they back us like they have always backed the club in the past."

On where the younger players fit:

"Realistically, a lot of these players won't take part when we come to the league games because they are players who have come from the reserves and the academy. They are working extremely well and I couldn't be happier with what we're doing, but we're about to play two really tough games with a team which, in my opinion, isn't ready to play against that level of opponent."

Pretty much nail on the head regarding the effort level of the players and starting to reverse some of the negativity around the club. He also speaks in the interview about the ownership situation, and it's likely no coincidence that those quotes immediately follow the ones about the climate of the club. It can't have been easy for him to walk into the toxicity of the front offices, and hopefully that's starting to change. As he mentions, not an overnight process, but one that's absolutely vital for the club's success.

Another interesting piece from the official site with Joe Cole today---as with above, quite lengthy, so I've knocked out a couple of the quotes that caught my eye (mostly because the rest is pretty standard interview-speak). Don't let me stifle your free-thinking nature, though, read the whole thing here.

On his fit in the side:

We have talked about positions in the team and types of formations he wants to play and I just want to be part of the team. I want to go out there and to run and fight for the lads and the fans. That's what I'll always do and Roy is the man who can make sure we are a nice unit as a team. It's all about us and being together as a team and having the spirit which can take you a long way. If you add that to the quality players we've got here we can go a long way.

On Roy Hodgson and tactics:

Obviously I'm not playing tonight but I have sat in on the first-team meeting and he is very thorough. He's very much about a team effort and he told the lads it's about effort and desire. We have to put that in to get results and we have to be together as a team. I think Roy is the man to bring us together tactically. It's going to be a very long season and there will be spells when things go wrong, but it's about how quickly you get out of them. If you start separating or relying too much on Stevie or Fernando then we can be in trouble, so we have to stay together, fight for each other and we can have a good season.

Which is still pretty much standard interview fare, but it's nice to hear him talk about working with the squad collectively. Granted, he's never going to come in and proclaim that he's going to single-handedly lead the club to a title. But for all the rumors and speculation about this being a purely financial move (which it may or may not still be), this is a good first step. Now all that's left is to single-handedly lead the club to a title. What? I can have my expectations.

Lastly, it seems it's time to start bidding farewell to Phillipp Degen, the oft-injured right back cum winger, even though he's in the starting eleven tonight. Hodgson has informed the Swiss international(ish) that he's not going to get any time in the first team, and encouraged him to ply his trade elsewhere. It was one case of bad luck after another for Degen after he arrived prior to the 2008-2009 season---he arrived with a bit of optimism attached, and after a string of nervy performances and injuries, it was clear that his days at Liverpool would be numbered. He did come on with a burst of energy in the winter months last season and played with the type of passion we'd been dying to see from the regulars, but heading into this season it was always going to be an uphill battle.

So best of luck Phillipp, hoping that he's able to stay healthy and finds some regular football.

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