I hope you’ve all enjoyed your Women’s World Cup and Gold Cup and Copa America — who wouldn’t, as reigning Champions League title holders? — because all of that is in the past now, and the Premier League season kicks off in exactly one month. As summers go, this has been a particularly short one for the Reds and their fans, and with proper footy a month away, that means pre-season matches will commence in just two days.
Yes, on Thursday, a mere forty days after they held ol’ Big Ears aloft in Madrid, Liverpool’s players will return to the pitch, starting their 2019/20 pre-season by facing off with anotehr Merseyside team in Tranmere Rovers, themselves coming off a successful campaign in which they were promoted from League 2.
So, are the players ready?
“Yeah, why not? I’m a football player so I want to play football - that’s what I’m doing all my life so why not?” Dejan Lovren told the club’s official site following his first training session of the new season.
“Like always it [day one of pre-season] was a little bit hard, but I’m glad that I’m here back. The vacation is over, it’s time to work and to get back on track where we stopped.
“It will be a quite intensive period with all these friendly games,” the 30-year old continued. “But there is quite a lot of players who already worked with the boss here in the previous seasons so we know what we are expecting and to be the best in the Premier League or in the Champions League you need to work quite a lot.
“I think we are a workaholic team here, with players who are professional in each way, inside the dressing room and outside. Every detail matters.”
Although Lovren saw fewer minutes than in any other season since joining the Reds back in 2014, falling behind both Joe Gomez and Joël Matip in the pecking order, his importance to the squad remains, and as fourth choice centre-backs go, they don’t get much better than the former Lyon and Southampton man.
The lack of playing time certainly hasn’t curbed Lovren’s ambitions.
“We’ll go again step by step,” he stated. “Let’s focus on each game in the Premier League, on each game in the Champions League again. It will be, like we know, a battle between the top four. They are good teams, especially Man City, so they also again want to prove [they are ready].
“But we are also one of the contenders and I am confident in this team because we are growing each year, we are each year better, so I hope we can beat the 97 points.”
Those are certainly not the words of a man who will settle for second place if he can help it, and while yet another record points total may not be realistic — albeit perhaps necessary — it is encouraging to know that the players are aware of exactly how high the bar has been set, and thus, how good they really are.