No player in the history of pre-seasons has ever needed a solid pre-season more than Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Look it up. It was a long time out of action and a steady run of fitness-boosting matches is just what the physio ordered. Ox seems to have been progressing well through his reintroduction to Liverpool’s first team. Jürgen Klopp has included him in every pre-season match and Ox has shown plenty of pluck in his performances.
There have been ups and downs and those will continue for a period of time as Ox’s body gets used to being a remarkable athlete again.
“Personally it’s been a bit of a struggle,” said Oxlade-Chamberlain.
”I forget that I haven’t played for a long time and, if I am honest, the last couple of games haven’t been at the level that I want.
“The Dortmund game I felt good but the next one (Sevilla) I felt tired and then the one after (against Sporting Lisbon) I was a bit more tired.
“A lot of the lads will feel tired in pre-season. But, for me, it’s a bit more of a shock to the system. I just keep trying to remind myself that I have been through the worst of it.”
Ox’s candid account of his present reality of fits and starts reveals a player wise to the benefits of patience and determination. He knows his pre-injury height of ability in his mind but his muscles and whatnot keep crapping out on him from time to time.
“It’s so different,” Oxlade-Chamberlain said. “You remember what you were physically capable of before. You remember how things felt and it’s different now. You are trying so hard to get back there.
“That is the next stage of the recovery: dealing with it all, giving myself time.
”I have got to remember not to try and get too frustrated. There is a place where I think I should be and where I want to be but there is a reality of the process that I am going through.
”The boys know me well enough to know where I am and what I can do. They see where I am at.
”As a professional, you know and respect what you have to do to get back to that level – especially to play for a team like us, with the intensity we have. It doesn’t just come overnight.
”Coming back from a long injury, it is going to be hard. But I don’t feel like I really have to prove to my team-mates or anyone in particular what I can do.
”But, of course, me as a person. I’m quite critical of myself and demand certain standards. I want to show people that I can be a part of this team.”
Oxlade-Chamberlain will be a very critical part of Klopp’s plans this season. Liverpool won the Champions League last season without him and now that he is back in the squad he really is like a player with a new skill set to bolster the manager’s options. Ox is just getting back up to speed, but once he starts really feeling the mojo with his elite coworkers again, expect a fireworks show, a pony ride, and maybe some skywriting, although I think it’s a little overdone.