The routine is now mostly set other than a bit of transfer news here or there--squad training pictures and bib theory predictions three days prior to kickoff, pre-match press conference two days before the match, nervous laughter and feigned confidence in the preview a day early, and then lots of cursing and perilously high blood pressures for most of the matchday. The bonus this season comes in the form of Champions League football, which brings with it more attention, more prestige, more sweeping multilingual anthems, and, most certainly, more horrifying levels of anxious excitement. We wouldn't have it any other way.
Thankfully Brendan Rodgers isn't one of us, at least insofar as he's not mashing the keyboard in all-caps and exclamation points when Philippe Coutinho goes on a mazy, dribbling run through five opposition defenders. At least not on the surface, where the manager strikes a composed, confident figure while outlining his hopes for the club in his third season in charge:
"We've got great hope going into this season. What happened last year counts for nothing, that's all gone now. The one thing that will carry on from that is the belief. We're really focused on the games - we're entering into a long, hard season ahead but a really exciting season because of our talents and the development of this group of players. Our aim is to be competitive. Like the top teams, we want to win a trophy. That would be an aim. In the league, it's about sustaining Champions League football. For that you want to arrive in fourth. Once you have consolidated that, you can look beyond that. That's certainly our aim this season."
Liverpool exist to win trophies, yes, but Liverpool also exist to have been on the brink of administration four years ago, to have missed out on the Champions League in each of the last four seasons, and to have run through four different managers in roughly that same period of time. So trophies are swell, and that should always be the aim, but this season is crucial for Liverpool in so many other tangible ways.
A modicum of success in their Champions League return, a top four finish, progress in domestic cup competition, and, as we've seen already this summer, adding the depth and quality that's needed to allow Liverpool to retain their spot among the league's best.