With the transfer window done and dusted, Liverpool fans today hurtle full force into the second most exciting and nerve-wracking time of the year: the international break. Just maybe scratch the part about exciting. Still, they're here again for another season, so it's time to get reacquainted with the unique blend of indifference and terror they bring.
One Liverpool player who won't be dragged off once a month, leaving Liverpool fans to fear for his health and fitness, is former England captain Steven Gerrard. His retirement from international football, though, leaves a leadership void for the national side. One that on early evidence at least, club teammate Jordan Henderson is looking to step up to help fill.
"There's no hiding from the fact we, as players, should have done a lot better," Henderson said, reflecting back on the summer's World Cup disappointment. "There's no getting away from that. I’ve had people come up to me saying we were a bit unlucky, that we played some decent stuff, but we were beaten in those first two games and came home with the worst record for years.
"So we understand we let everybody down, not only ourselves but also the fans who travelled halfway round the world to watch us. I don’t think we’ll ever forget that feeling after the Uruguay game, that sheer disappointment. You keep that pain through your career. It drives you on to do better."
With most of England's supposed golden generation long gone from the international stage, it will be a younger squad taking on Norway on Wednesday, giving fans and the curious their first insight into how Roy Hodgson plans on moving the side forward. And whatever the rest of the lineup, it's likely going to fall to Henderson to be England's midfield engine.
"We have to show we deserve to be in the England team and show people how much we do care," he added. "The younger lads have to step up and show just what they have to offer to the team. It is a new start after the World Cup. We have to show we are good enough and that we deserve to be here."
A light crowd is expected at Wembley for Wednesday's friendly, following which England will fly to Switzerland as they kick off Euro 2016 qualification on Monday in a clash of Group E's two strongest sides. However that match goes, both countries will expect to advance from a group rounded out by Slovenia, Lithuania, Estonia, and San Marino.