Liverpool closed out their preseason campaign on Saturday, beating La Liga cruiserweights Athletic Bilbao 3-1 at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. While the team’s performance kept some lingering doubts about the squad at a low hum, it was a solid enough outing and a strong close to preseason preparations.
There will be plenty of time between now and the start of Liverpool’s Premier League campaign next Saturday at Watford to talk about the state of the team and how ready they are for 2017-18. While the league and European campaigns haven’t started yet, and the transfer window is still open, there are some hard and valid questions everyone at Anfield will need to find answers to.
You can be sure that manager Jürgen Klopp will be grappling with those questions. Following the end of the match, Klopp offered some comments about the game, the transfer window, and how the squad looks heading into Matchweek 1 of the Premier League.
On the preseason campaign as a whole, Klopp said there are plenty of positive takeaways— along with some reason for concern.
“We’ve played a lot of games and we didn’t lose one, we had two draws and lost on a penalty shootout to Atletico, but that’s a good sign. Performance-wise, most of the time good or even better. A few weaknesses we saw today. First half an hour, I’d say [we played] brilliant football and then we lost organisation and gave them two opportunities and changed the game a little bit. Then we had to run and I was not happy with these 15 minutes but on the other hand it’s very important that you have it, because perfection in preseason is the biggest mistake you can make because it always leads to the wrong decisions. We know we have to be really concentrated to be really stable, and when we are stable we are a real threat and we can play really good football. You could see in the second half that we had a very young side and struggled a little bit in the beginning, but then opened our chest and played. It was nice to see, we looked smart, so I’m happy.”
Klopp also singled out academy product Ben Woodburn, who scored the second goal against Bilbao.
“For a young player, in my team there will always be space, but it’s about the player. You saw in the first five or 10 minutes, Ben struggled. It’s been a hard pre-season for him, he’s still only 17, turns 18 in October, so we try to keep him out as much as possible because we have to treat him like a 17-year-old boy. He’s doing really well and everybody can see his skills, but he struggled in the beginning [against Bilbao], then he changed the game with a nice goal and he was in the game and played really well. That’s how it is— young players have these ups and downs.”
The Reds boss also talked about the remainder of the transfer window and shared some surprising news— Alberto Moreno is here to stay.
“We’ve always said that until August 31 we’ll run through the world with open eyes, that’s clear, but it’s not us alone who decides about these things. It’s all about other clubs [too]. Our situation, I thought today and this preseason brought us new players, if you want. Alberto Moreno is 100 per cent back, which is very nice after a really difficult year. Andrew Robertson shows all the skills he has, of course he still has to adapt to our way of playing but you can already see what a threat he can be offensively. That means Millie is free for midfield, so without being in the transfer market we have a new midfield player, which is nice. Dom Solanke…I think he’s already shown that he’s ready for some adult football. Ryan Kent, I’ve known him for one-and-a-half years and last year he developed unbelievably well and this preseason is completely different to last preseason, he’s completely showed up now. So, without paying too much money or the highest transfer fees we have additions in the squad. That’s good.”
What do you think of Klopp’s assessment of the squad? Let us know in comments!