International breaks are the very worst. If your team is on a loss, fans and players are given two weeks to stew in that terrible feeling and dread the upcoming reintroduction to proper football, while a team coming off a strong performance — such as trampling Arsenal 4-0 — risks losing rhythm or, worse, suffering injuries to key players.
This leads to quite an egotistical attitude from fans — if you can imagine such a thing — when monitoring internationals, magnanimously wishing their favourite players all the accolades and recognition in the word, while simultaneously praying they get sat on the bench and stay there so they’re fresh for the matches that really matter next weekend.
Rarely does an international break end without at least one first team player going down for a period of time, but when they do, it’s an occasion worthy of celebration. Jürgen Klopp knows what’s up.
“It’s pretty much the best news you can get,” the Reds manager told the club’s official site ahead of Saturday’s match against Manchester City.
“It’s really not my favourite time, because you cannot see all the games. You always think you can see all football games but most of them I can only get a [news] ticker and if somebody is substituted you think ‘Oh’ – it’s really not too nice.
“But so far they all came home completely healthy. OK, it was intense what they did of course but healthy and fit – [it is] good.”
Much has been made of Philippe Coutinho’s mysterious back injury that conveniently kept him out of Liverpool’s crucial Champions League and Premiership fixtures to start the campaign, but healed quickly enough that the Brazilian was able to feature for his country in their World Cup qualifiers this weekend. Speculation has been rife that the 25-year old would experience a recurrence of the impairment upon his return to Merseyside, but Klopp is characteristically unperturbed by the whole ordeal.
“It’s of course different because Phil, I know what people think, but Phil had the back problem a few weeks ago and couldn’t train so that means he missed around about three weeks,” divulged the third-year manager.
“Yes, he went to the national team and trained normally, but now we have to prepare for a normal season so we have seven games [before the next international break] and we saw training this morning and thought ‘OK, maybe we should use him immediately’ because he was really good, but that doesn’t make sense.”
He continued: “We have now to continue with the pre-season, not too long, but in a few sessions we have to give ourselves the time because in the next month we have seven games.
“We always have the same decision to make, ‘does he need training or can he play?’ and all that stuff. Yes, he will now do a little bit more than the other boys but he showed up in a very, very good mood and looks really promising.”
Well then. Good mood? No injuries? Just lacking a bit of match sharpness? It sounds as though the table is set for Coutinho’s peaceful reintegration into the squad, and, eventually, the matchday XI. Whether Saturday’s trip to the Etihad comes to soon remains to be seen, but on the surface, it appears all is well in the Liverpool country.