These preseason games have me feeling quietly giddy, I’m not going to lie to you. If I had to pin it down to one thing I’d say it’s all the positives. Positives as far as the eye can see. Mohamed Salah is a goalscorer. He loves it. Marries it. Sadio Mané has just returned to playing after his long forever lay off and while rusty I’ll grant you is doing some extremely Sadio things out there. Daniel Andre Sturridge may actually be coming back. Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino are buzzing to take it up another notch for the team this season. And as Kevin said in the post next door, the kids are coming up to play.
Jürgen Klopp has a first eleven that will hit the Premier League opening with force. Whatever otherworldly training the team is undergoing is clearly paying off. They look just about fit and ready. Another positive. And is a little defeat in a marketing cup going to put a dent in that. Klopp says, nope, during his post-match presser. Come and see.
“If you get to a penalty shootout you want to win it,” said the manager, “but that’s not the important situation that we have today.
“The boys played really well, they were very good in their preparations and you couldn’t have had a more difficult job than we did today against a team like Atletico, who get results, results, results.
“We had a lot of substitutions and were a bit tired from all the training, so it can’t be easy. If you can do it better then great.”
What with the constant fitness cruelty heaped upon the players while in Germany and being just a day removed from the high-octane bout with Bayern Munich, the match with Atletico Madrid was always going to be replete with mismatched pieces as most of our bright lights took in the game in the shade. But the manager remains bullish on the progress he sees in his entire squad.
“In the first half, we had a few nice moments where we had some good crosses,” said Klopp.
“It was really tight, but when we conceded we didn’t think straight away and the formation wasn’t one hundred percent.
“One lost challenge with a header shouldn’t mean you go behind.”
There’s obviously still work to do on the system and the player’s integration into it. Especially defensively. But let’s not do that here. Because we’re all about positives right now. And that’s cool. Being positive is cool. Tell the others.
But we’re getting somewhere. A little of the organisation gets lost from time to time. And also the quickness of thought. And some positional awareness issues creep in. Joe Gomez going full Jon Flanagan against Atletico isn’t great. But other than that we’re scoring goals and generally looking almost bad ass. Sometimes.
“We’ve really trained hard, the boys have been great about it and done everything I’ve expected from them. We’ve had a very intensive programme so that’s why I am very, very happy with it.
The goal is to be better than last season. And on the evidence we’ve seen in the last two games, along with the near-rhyme power of giddy-positivity which flows through our hopeful Red hearts, I’d say we’re going to win the league. (Confetti)