I am currently drafting this piece in an airport on the back end of a fruitful, if exhausting, few days away on a work retreat. It’s at an idyllic location, right off of the water along California’s Central Coast and perfect for what I needed.
The past few years have been, in a word, wild. I took on a new job in an entirely different field. My daughter was born. And all of this taking place in an America that has seemed determined to collapse rather than shed the shackles of white supremacy.
I needed a break, even if things weren’t all bad.
Things for Liverpool, though are far from being bad. Headed into the International Break, Liverpool claimed three points from last year’s Premier League winners, Manchester City, and effectively placed themselves as the ones to chase in this year’s race. City sit third in the table nine points back thanks to that performance, with Chelsea and Leicester City being the closest challengers to Liverpool at points behind the Reds. Liverpool are drivers of their own destiny.
But that doesn’t mean the break wasn’t welcome. Liverpool’s stars had a very short off season with this year’s Champions League Final taking place in the first weekend in June and then a few of its stars - including the entire attacking contingent and Alisson Becker - heading off to international tournaments.
As to be expected, injuries became something to contend with: Naby Keita, having only returned from a long layoff in time for the Champions League Final, got beset by a rash of injuries upon returning. He’s being eased back into the team, but that’s slowed what looked like a promising run of form for The Admiral.
Mohamed Salah has also suffered through a bit of an injury sting this year. The time off is clearly worth it, especially given that the fixtures will come thick and fast in short order.
Taking a break, now, feels necessary and is welcome.
The thing about the Premier League season that we often hear is that it’s a marathon. Sure, compared to American sports like baseball or even basketball, the season is relatively short - 38 matches in total. Not that much. But top teams often are playing for multiple awards and that means lots of fixtures to get through.
When I started following Liverpool, being involved in 5 competitions in a season this deep into it felt unheard of. That is Liverpool’s reality at the moment as they are alive in the Champions League, FA Cup, Carabao Cup, and Club World Cup along with their work in the Premier League. They lost in the Community Shield and took home the UEFA Super Cup to open up this season. Liverpool still have a chance, then, to take home 6 trophies this season. 6.
Which means that Liverpool are set to play a ton of matches yet in this season. Lots can happen between now and the end of the year to alter that trajectory. But the expectation for Liverpool fans is that through February, at least, Liverpool will have about as full a load as we’ve seen in our time as fans.
It is exciting, of course, but with that extra load means a need for respite and a need to take some time to recuperate.
I’ve made it home after my three day retreat. It was a long time to be away; made especially long because I flew out on a red eye Monday morning, and ended up on one of the last flights back on Wednesday. I am particularly tired now.
The time away was also the longest I’d been away from my wife and daughter. And, as it turns out, I’d never fully grown out of the homesickness that I had growing up; I spent a lot of time feeling melancholy at not having my two favorite people in the world with me.
But I also recognize that I needed this break. Not from my family, but from the responsibilities of my day to day. Because I needed time to confront the tensions I’ve built in the three years since I’ve taken on this work. And I need time to ready me for the arduous task ahead.
Liverpool are in a similar boat. And while the break is imposed on the clubs and not all of the players experience a full break, it still serves as a light reset and an opportunity to ready one’s self for the next big chunk of the journey. With holiday fixtures coming, there’s no better time than now to soak up that extra bit of rest.