It’s fair to say that Liverpool’s last warm weather training in Dubai didn’t quite go as planned. The training was disrupted by injuries and illness, and instead of coming back to action refreshed and ready for the run-in, the lads looked tired and disjointed in consecutive disappointing 1-1 draw to Leicester City and West Ham.
If the Reds hope to kick on for one (or more) shiny object at the end of the season, they’ll need to come out of this warm weather training in Marbella with a bit more verve about them, and fast. Indeed, Liverpool are staring down the barrel at two massive, potentially season-defining showdowns against Bayern Munich and Manchester United.
Although Liverpool weren’t at their energetic best immediately after the last break, assistant coach Pepjin Lijnders knows the players have it in them to push on after this one.
“Everything starts and finishes with the passion and ambition of the team. Everything about this team is glued by togetherness and by character,” Pep said the the club’s official website in Marbella.
“We know if we give everything, every day, then we can beat probably every team, or at least we can create a lot of problems against them. The boys know that and that’s the only way to prove [it]. 90 per cent of the three points are made in the week before the game, we believe in this.”
Let’s see, 90 percent of three points is 2.7 points. 2.7 points per game over a season is 102 points. Winning 2.7 points per game from here on in would give Liverpool 97 or 98 points this season, almost certainly good enough for the title. Math checks out.
“Probably we only have one rule: that’s always 100 per cent attitude,” Lijnders continued. “It all comes together, of course, but it starts with the boys having this passion to be better and better, not just individually but as a group. That drives our development and it’s a big plus for them.”
Although a certain former manager may have forever tarnished the word “character” in the minds of Liverpool supporters, Lijnders believes it to be key, not just with the current squad, but when recruiting new players.
“But what we first want to know is the character. How passionate are they still to improve? How much ambition is there to win prizes? How much ambition is there to play in our way?
“We search for that type of player. One, talent, absolutely; but probably before it is the character of the player.”
None of this can come as a shock, as Klopp’s recruitment practices have been reported by respected journalists such as Melissa Reddy and Raphael Honigstein.
However, it is an interesting peak behind the curtains, and definitely worth the read, especially since we have to wait what feels like 84 years for Liverpool’s next (huge) match.