Three weeks. Four games. Four wins. Liverpool have had a solid pre-season so far, but now, as they prepare for their first games on their pre-season tour of the United States, manager Jürgen Klopp says that in some ways it will be like starting all over again as he begins phase two of preparations for the 2016-17 season.
That’s because today, Liverpool’s English core of players returned to training with their club teammates. Daniel Sturridge, Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana, James Milner, and Nathaniel Clyne all joined up with the club for their first training sessions in California. Over the next few days, the club’s Belgian and German representatives will rejoin the squad, bringing it up to full strength.
"We have a very young group at this moment, but it works," said the Liverpool manager. "You can see the games, we haven’t played too often together but we have had a few good situations, some good passing and some good movement. You can see we work together and I like this, but now we start nearly a new pre-season with all of the other players.
"It will be intense for all of the players, for sure. We have some interesting games and it will be intense but it is very important and hopefully we can use the time really well. We will have a team for the Arsenal game and the Burnley game and the game after that. We will always have a team that is ready for the game but at this moment I’ve no idea what it will be."
It will be intense because Jürgen Klopp doesn’t do things any other way. And it will be interesting as much as anything to see how the manager views some of his new signings; how he fits them into his existing squad. Roberto Firmino has so far been lining up at striker, but Sturridge and Divock Origi returning seems likely to push him back into a supporting role.
The knock-on effect will be interesting, as will where Klopp decides to fit Georginio Wijnaldum into the mix. The Dutch midfielder mostly played in an attacking role last season at Newcastle, but that’s Liverpool’s deepest area and at the international level he has at times played a deeper, box-to-box role that could mean Klopp views him as a like-for-like Joe Allen replacement.
It will be interesting to see how all of that plays out; to see where Milner and Lallana and Henderson fit in. Certainly it will be intense. And anyone who claims to know more than Klopp and be certain of how it will sort out come Arsenal and the regular season is likely to end up looking foolish.