Having six weeks off in the middle of a Premier League season is unprecedented, but after recently being forced to pause by Covid, football—or at least club football—has been forced on hiatus once again, this time by the 2022 winter World Cup in Qatar.
That country’s sportswashing efforts, as they throw money at football in an effort to get the sport to help burnish their global image and distract from their abuses of migrant labourers and human rights ills, continue through the weekend with the final on Sunday.
For Liverpool and other clubs, though, the past week has seen a return to training as they prepare for the imminent restart, and for Liverpool’s Andy Robertson it has been noteworthy to be part of an extended training camp with the focus solely on football.
“We’ve settled into the one hotel and the one training ground and there’s been no moving about,” Liverpool’s Scottish left back noted. “Some of the trips we go on are more hectic and commercially driven, but this is purely football and team bonding as well.
“It’s an important week or so and coming towards the end of it now it’ll be 12 days, so it’s been good. Training in the heat, this environment. After three weeks off it’s just been about fine tuning things and being ready for the start of the Premier League.”
Following Friday’s tune-up friendly against AC Milan the Reds return to England for their final preparations ahead of the restart, with a League Cup tie against Manchester City on Thursday the 22nd then the first Premier League game on Monday, December 26th.
As for what’s needed when the league does get going again, Robertson says it’s going to be all about consistency—something Liverpool have managed in past seasons but which has been lacking so far in a difficult 2022-23 campaign that sees them sat sixth.
“I think over the past few years, one of the things you can say about this team is that we’ve been so consistent,” Robertson added. “We’ve just lacked that a bit this season. We’ve had some fantastic results, some important wins, but we’ve had some setbacks as well.
“The setbacks have been too common for a team like us that people have become used to not dropping many points. So it’s been a bit inconsistent, which isn’t like us, and it’s important that we get that consistency back for the second half of the season.”