Sunday’s friendly match in Edinburgh against Napoli didn’t end well. It started well, according to boss Jürgen Klopp, and ended mostly well for Liverpool as the younger kids came on, but that was about it in terms of “ending well.” Liverpool lost 0-3 to Napoli, making their preseason tally of wins and losses... well, that doesn’t look good either. The good news is that most of the missing players return tomorrow and there’s only one more preseason friendly to get through before the Community Shield against Manchester City next weekend. Or that could be bad news, depending on the way you look at it.
“The start was good, and that’s it. The start was good and the ending was good because the young boys came in and brought some freshness and they were cheeky and all that stuff. That looked nice,” Klopp said during his post-match press conference. It was a rough afternoon for the Reds against a tough, maybe even slightly more rested team, and the manager didn’t sugarcoat things.
“We just conceded two simple goals, each ball we lost was pretty much a proper counter-attack. Napoli are good in that, but you have to defend that obviously better or you have to keep the ball or you have to have a better formation. Pretty much you need to have everything better than we had in these situations and they had more chances. We had a couple of chances as well, the first one especially.
“I know everything what I say when you lose a game, everything what you say to explain, people think it’s an excuse. But the last thing I want to look for is an excuse because we don’t need it. But in fact, Napoli start in the same moment as we started with the pre-season but their season starts on the 24th of August, like three weeks later than ours. It means they train nice and smoothly. They train a little bit because they can train over the whole period. We have four weeks and need to be spot on. We have to train - I cannot change it.
“That’s how football looks sometimes that we have rather heavy legs after a couple of weeks. We have another week which we will use to get freshness back, 100 per cent. But apart from that, if you are tired, we of course have to make better decisions than we made today in protection, we need a better formation than we had today. So, that’s it. It was, of course, not good and we lost a couple of games now in the pre-season already. We try to use them, that’s how we always try to do it, and I’m pretty sure we will play better football.”
With injuries coming into play, and more academy kids getting more match minutes, the conversation inevitably turned towards the players that are returning. Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, and Alisson Becker all return to training on Monday in France, with Sadio Mane coming in on the 5th of August. Including injuries, Liverpool are still missing quite a few players and that’s made an impact on the squad.
“Missing six players is strange. That you lose players during a pre-season, we are used to - that happened from time to time. But that they don’t start from the beginning and come a couple of days before or after we start with the season is not cool. Again, that’s how it is and we prepared everybody as good as possible,” Klopp continued.
“We have to fight the start of the season 100 per cent with all we have. The good thing is, if the opponents want to analyse us now, they think ‘easy job’, but we will be a different animal next week.”
There’s still a little less than two weeks away from the start of the Premier League, and Liverpool have the opening match on a Friday night. All eyes will be on them and Manchester City again, respectively, and competition will be even tougher than last year’s historic 97 point run. Has the preseason prepared them for that, with this not great run of form?
“I think the worst thing that could have happened is if we had won all the games without the six players; 4-0 or 5-0 against Napoli and Sevilla, then everybody would be flying from last year and into the new season, then getting the problems in the season,” the manager responded.
“That would have been the worst thing. But between the worst thing and that now would have been a few levels I would have preferred. I knew before we started that it would be exceptionally difficult because of the situation.
“We have to adapt to a few things and we have to create a specific spirit. For this we have a week’s time. For the first time since the Champions League final we have 99 per cent of the squad tomorrow, only Sadio is missing then, and that’s the moment where we really start talking and preparing a couple of things and then we have to go again.”
Everyone’s ready to go again, boss. Mostly we’re all ready to snap this bad run before the season has even started.