The Liverpool players and staff have been in Austria for just over two weeks, working through all of the kinks and preparing for a difficult season ahead. Coach Pep Lijnders provided the official website with an update on how the training is going, his respect for Trent Alexander-Arnold and the coaches’ night of bowling.
“Jürgen and I sat together on the bus to go through the next days of training; some great plans are coming up,” Lijnders said. “Our second phase of pre-season starts now, ‘back to consistency’. We know what we want, a quality game, now it’s about applying it together constantly.”
He outlined some of the challenges that they presented to the players to switch things up in training. One was the penalty challenge, and as Lijnders described it:
“...[T]he idea was if you shoot and miss you have to do 2x1,000 extra, but if you score it’s done and if you don’t take the chance, you have to do only’ 1x1,000 more. It’s a game for the brain: 180 heartbeat and then make this decision. Sadio, Trent, Milner and Neco missed, but everybody took the chance. Then you saw some team players; Ox immediately ran with Trent; Mo went to help Sadio; Robbo and Diogo went with Neco. These things make us coaches smile.”
James Milner ran his alone, it seems. Not that it matters to the freakishly fit robot-man, who could probably just keep going indefinitely if you asked him to. It is nice to hear about Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane working together after all of the rivalry talk between them.
And speaking of Alexander-Arnold, he just returned to the team after recovering from an injury, and Lijnders was full of praise. He has watched the young right-back grow into his talent for years, and that gives him an interesting perspective on his rise up the Liverpool ranks.
“He grew step-by-step into the wonderful guy he is now, surrounded by a lovely family, he created this superb personality,” the coach said. “He has this aggression in a positive way. If someone represents this quote of Bill Shankly it’s him: playing at the highest level isn’t pressure, it’s a reward.
“I still see the same fire in his eyes in each training, but I don’t see this young guy anymore; I see a leader, I see someone who controls his emotions, a future captain. A leader by example. The best clubs have one thing in common, a ‘one club’ mentality. The culture spreads through all departments. It’s great that our talents, the real ones, can make these steps together with our team.”
And if you’re interested in how the coaches get wild and have fun, it’s apparently with a wild night of bowling.
“On our last night in Salzburg, we played bowling with members of the coaching staff, on the invitation of Andreas. The German staff, including Jürgen, Pete, Korny and Schlumbi, formed one team and tried to keep up with us… ha!
“Matt, Vitor, Jack, myself and the magic thrower John Achterberg were on the other side and, let me say it like this, there was no VAR needed!”
Hertha comes next for the boys, and Klopp has dangled some exciting prospects of long missed players seeing some minutes for it, which would be a very happy sight.