Creating a fellowship among professional footballers can’t be all that easy to do. On the one hand, you do have the benefit of a singular purpose: football. But, on the other hand, you are dealing with individuals from varying backgrounds, age, experience, etc. A manager must find a way to help create togetherness out of, or in spite of, those differences in order to turn his players into a team. For manager, Jürgen Klopp, that way came in the form of the summer’s preseason tour in the United States.
The way Jordan Henderson describes it, the summer tour comes off as more of a summer camp.
“In the summer, there were quite a few additions to the group,” Henderson said.
“You are with each other every day when you are away on preseason and one of the things we worked on was the team spirit.”
Close your eyes and imagine a potato sack race. Sadio Mane hopping purposefully towards the finish line, suddenly stumbles, falls over, taking out Dejan Lovren in the process. Lovren, now sprawled out on the grass laughing, reaches out to trip Emre Can as he passes by. Can avoids Lovren’s outstretched hand but bangs into Loris Karius. German exclamations ring out with hoots and hollers of joy. Just lads, they are, relaxing in that California sun, unaware that the magic of team-spirit is swirling all around them.
“This is a great group,” Henderson continued. “We all get on very well, I think having that togetherness away from the pitch is a big part of being a team.
“If you have that, it definitely means that you are better prepared to go on the pitch and fight for each other.
“And I expect that spirit, that bond, to get even better the more time we all spend working together.”
Of course, as fans, we are subjected to shallow raptures all the time from players. Drums need to be banged, after all, in bad times and in good. And there has been much praise coming from players, of late.
This season, we have been down right inundated with gushy accolades from player interviews. But, there’s no shallowness to report.
Instead, there’s a real belief and depth of joy that our Reds are playing with under Jürgen Klopp and the oft-overlooked Zeljko Buvac, reigning potato sack race champion.