The plane has landed. Enthusiastic faces of the comfortably-traveled peaked out from inside their autobus of the sky and reveled in the warmness of their temporary Spanish nest. La Manga. Spain. Mediterranean Sea. Where five-star accommodations awaited the Liverpool players who traveled. Nestled in the hills of the Calblanque National Park sits their 5-day home-away-from-home, the enjoyably-spoken Principe Felipe. Or more exactly, the Hotel La Manga Club Principe Felipe. And from my Google Maps vantage point, I can tell you, it has a very blue pool and lots of roofs.
Surely, the team will find time to enjoy their short-term surroundings together, possibly taking in the cinema or sketching local shells on the shores of the Mar Menor. But, of course, Jürgen Klopp hasn’t brought the team to Spain for a simple vacation. This is a work trip. Last work trip I made I went to Pittsburgh. Outside of Pittsburgh, really? Hotel La Pittsburgh Club Marriot.
Two training sessions are scheduled for Thursday on the team’s first day in La Manga. Running. Passing. Fundamentals. And there will most certainly be team-building exercises. Trust falls? Language immersion games? Monopoly? We don’t know. We don’t have a daily schedule, don’t have access to one or have anybody on the case to get one. That’s the truth.
The Principe Felipe boasts a collection of regulation football pitches for it’s guests. An international under-19 tournament just finished up there days ago. And Liverpool will now move in and give any local, curious eyes a sight of the game quite a few steps up from youth level. Training in La Manga is likely to be just as intense as it is back at Melwood. This is a Premier League team with much to prove after losing form this winter.
But a week and a half is a nice break for the team to regroup and plan for the match against Leicester City on February 27th. A week and a half with a trip to Spain for a change of scenery and a refreshening of the mojo could (hope, hope) prove to be a masterstroke from Klopp that colors the collective squad mindset until the end of the season.
The convincing win over Tottenham was a wonderful feeling after whatever the other stuff we were watching was. The weird losses. But one win doesn’t guarantee anything. The ruthlessness needs coming back. The endurance needs coming back. The relentless press. The sharpness. Where did it go? Why? And where do we go from here? Onward, of course. Poolside. Cannonballs. Alberto Moreno’s portable karaoke machine.