Liverpool pre-season tour brings excitement
There are positive vibes in the clean air of Austria. Whenever Liverpool players are spotted riding on bicycles somewhere near the Alps, the reaction is one of excitement about having the boys back together. From the dreaded lactate test to the pre-season games, you can almost smell the freshly mown grass at Carrow Road.
Fitness of the defensive fab four
This time, Liverpool’s preparations have even more interest from across the globe. *Everyone * wants to know how the Fab Four are. No, not Mane, Salah, Jota and Firmino but the returning quartet of Virgil Van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joel Matip. Three of those went missing for the crucial part of Liverpool’s season in 2020/21 and the effect was both cumulative and seismic. The towering giant that is Ibrahima Konate has also made quite the impression. Unlike Loris Karius’s ice cream video post-Kyiv, most fans are lapping up the ice-cool montage of Konate.
It is still nothing short of incredible how the makeshift team – albeit one with expensively assembled parts – managed to salvage third by garnering 26 points from the final 30. 2021/22 has to be more straightforward for “The Normal One” than 2020/21. Surely?
Well, the lowdown from the manager looks about as fresh as Jurgen Klopp himself minus the spectacles: “Virg and Joe will not have double sessions now for the first few days with the team. They have a second session of the day but it’s with the rehab department, physiotherapy – these kinds of things. (They) look really good. I don’t know exactly when we can make the next steps but it will happen in the next four weeks.”
Time is needed to rebuild the brick wall at the back
Fans will have been getting the calculators out. The opening game against Norwich is just over four weeks away. If anybody thought that VVD and Gomez were on a Viennese waltz right back into the team, then this was a healthy reminder that much needs to be assessed before reaching that scenario. No matter what the professionalism, skill and previous form of these two, there can be no judgement day on their long-term well-being until that first crunching tackle and those OPTA stats pile up in the right direction.
Klopp went on to say that Matip was the closest one to first-team action. TAA’s injury diagnosis has thankfully reduced from a major to a manageable one.
Everyone has eyes for Konate but the frustration often vented is “who else?” as Liverpool’s rivals make their moves in the market. The need to refresh is still there but will the Reds feel having the old gang back are like a bunch of new signings? The idea that FSG will end up sticking rather than twisting is always a concern. We need to talk about who replaces Wijnaldum for a start.
Four weeks is a long time in football. There’s still time for a late signing that will take the roof off. Meanwhile, enjoy the sight of the men on bikes. They are coming home soon.