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Five things from Adelaide / pre-season in general


The Reds’ made it three pre-season wins out of three with a slightly laboured 2-0 success over Adelaide United down under this morning. James Milner's impressive start to life at Anfield continued with his second goal of the pre-season, while fellow new boy Danny Ings also got off the mark. Here’s TLW Editor Dave Usher with five observations from pre-season so far…

The team is taking shape.

Rodgers clearly has a fair idea about most of the line up he will send out against Stoke and he’s giving them as many minutes as possible in order to get them ready. That’s good to see; it shows lessons have been learned from previous years.

Mignolet, Skrtel, Clyne (excellent against Adelaide), Milner (two goals already) and Henderson are all nailed on starters and I’d say there’s every chance Lallana will be too based on his impressive form and the fact that Coutinho and (especially) Firmino are late coming back and may not be fully up to speed in time.

All of them are getting plenty of minutes now which can only be a good thing, unless of course you’re one of the other players in the squad looking for a chance to impress. Which leads me to…

There needs to be more pre-season games

A strange thing to say perhaps, but it’s just dawned on me today that I don’t think there enough games given the size of squads these days. We’ve got a 30 man squad on this tour. THIRTY!! Normally that leads to managers trying to give everyone a game which basically makes the whole thing fairly pointless in terms of preparation for the opening game, but as stated above that isn’t happening this year.

While Rodgers is correctly concentrating on building his ‘new’ team and getting them battle ready as quickly as possible, there are a number of talented players not getting enough (or in some cases, any) minutes. I’m sure the training sessions are proving beneficial, but it’s a pity that the likes of Markovic, Teixeira (brilliant in the 45 minutes he did get in Thailand), Ojo, Wilson and others will have hardly had any game time this pre-season.

Something that needs looking at in future maybe? Either more games on the tours or take a smaller squad and have more domestic friendlies for those not travelling.

It’s not about fitness anymore

Pre-season results mean next to nothing, but performances are becoming increasingly relevant I’d say. Back in the day players would come back from their summer holidays carrying excess timber and generally being pretty unfit. Pre-season was about getting their fitness back and often even our great sides would get their arses handed to them by some Scandinavian nobodies.

No-one cared because the games were never televised and everyone knew it was just about the lads running off their ale guts in time for August. Nowadays players never lose that fitness so you can therefore read more into performances. It’s not about getting fit anymore, they’re already fit, it’s about proving you should be in the team.

What we’ve seen so far has been encouraging. The standard of opposition hasn’t been great and that obviously needs to be taken into account, but we’ve had a nice shape to the team and have been difficult to play against. Too often last year that wasn’t the case.

The work rate has been excellent (especially considering it’s only pre-season and teams are usually only playing at half pace at this point) and a lot of it stems from the midfield pairing of Henderson and Milner pushing high up the pitch and harrying the opposition.

Rodgers obviously wants them playing together as much as possible now because they will be hugely important for us this season. I’d make Milner vice captain right now as he’s clearly the best candidate.

We still haven’t seen the A-Team

We haven’t been great in the final third yet and the most encouraging aspects of the performances have been in other areas, but it’s worth keeping in mind that so far we’ve been playing without what most people would recognise as our first choice front three.

Coutinho and Firmino are due back in training on Wednesday and Benteke is expected to join them providing all goes well with his medical. In their absence we’ve been playing with our second and occasionally third choice options, so all in all we’ve done ok.

There’s still places up for grabs

Who partners Skrtel? That looks to be a toss up at the moment with Lovren and Sakho getting relatively equal amounts of playing time. Left back is wide open too, Moreno made his first appearance of the pre-season in this game but I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Joe Gomez started the season based on what he’s shown so far.

The third midfield spot looks to be between Allen and Lucas but Emre Can’s return to training with give Rodgers another option. My money would be on Allen getting the nod, and he was excellent against Adelaide. Assuming Coutinho and Benteke come straight in then that will leave Firmino, Lallana and Ibe fighting it out for the third spot.

Lallana and Ibe have both looked sharp and will be pushing hard for places against Stoke as Firmino may have cost a lot of money but right now he’s a completely unknown quantity. The next couple of games will go a long way towards deciding who wins that battle, but if the season started now Lallana would surely get the nod.

Benteke doesn’t look to have too much to worry about from Origi or Ings just yet though. Both have done ok and it’s pleasing that they’re both already off the mark, but neither will keep Benteke out the team. The two Brazilians may have a fight on their hands though at least, which can only be a good thing.

 

Dave Usher

@theliverpoolway


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24 Comments

The holding role will be between Allens' and Lucas', Can will fight it out for the CM spot, with Milner, Henderson and maybe Coutinho.

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Can't argue with any of that Dave, nailed it I reckon.

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Can might struggle to get in the team anywhere. He's a really good footballer but there are drawbacks when playing him in any position (except in the back three where he's ace).

 

He did say earlier in the summer that Rodgers has told him he'll be mostly used as a defensive midfielder though didn't he?

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Good point about the squad it might well be time to keep a squad at home to get valuable game time, rumours on Twitter that Milner might get the vice captain role
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Regarding point 2! They have already adressed that. We face Helsinki on Saturday August 1st and then Swindon on Sunday the 2nd. I guess we'll send 2 seperate squads of 15 from this tour + the late arrivals, maybe with a couple of additions from the u21's in (Sinclair, Brannagan, Canos and Yesil for instance.)

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Most of the problem is we just have too many players. Markovic is now 5th choice for his position and we paid £20 million for him.
I still think he's got a lot of quality but we might as well sell him if he's not even going to make the bench.
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Can might struggle to get in the team anywhere. He's a really good footballer but there are drawbacks when playing him in any position (except in the back three where he's ace).

 

He did say earlier in the summer that Rodgers has told him he'll be mostly used as a defensive midfielder though didn't he?

 

I really like Can as a footballer, but football doesn't actually have a position for him.

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The fact that we can still genuinely have Allen and Lucas fighting for a starting spot is a little depressing though.

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That's just fucking crazy talk dave. How dare you imply actual pre season preparation will benefit the team.
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I really like Can as a footballer, but Rodgers doesn't actually have a position for him.

A teensy weensy (but relative) adjustment on that.

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A teensy weensy (but relative) adjustment on that.

 

In fairness to Rodgers on that he wants his midfielders to play a high pressing game which requires a lot of energy. Milner, Henderson and Allen have that, Can really doesn't. He has other attributes and looks ace there for Germany, but their set up is completely different.

 

 

Regarding point 2! They have already adressed that. We face Helsinki on Saturday August 1st and then Swindon on Sunday the 2nd. I guess we'll send 2 seperate squads of 15 from this tour + the late arrivals, maybe with a couple of additions from the u21's in (Sinclair, Brannagan, Canos and Yesil for instance.)

 

Yeah it's only one game though isn't it. It's a start though I suppose.

 

Most of the problem is we just have too many players. Markovic is now 5th choice for his position and we paid £20 million for him.
I still think he's got a lot of quality but we might as well sell him if he's not even going to make the bench.

 

Agreed. Four players ahead of him and the likes of Wilson, Ojo and Kent trying to push their way into the squad too. Writing looks on the wall for him, even though he'll probably be a very good player.

 

That's just fucking crazy talk dave. How dare you imply actual pre season preparation will benefit the team.

 

Well it doesn't usually, this year might be the exception though.

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You could argue that we have spent 75 million quid in the last two years on attacking midfielders and that Ibe and Coutinho should be first choice who cost 8 mill between them.
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Agreed. Four players ahead of him and the likes of Wilson, Ojo and Kent trying to push their way into the squad too. Writing looks on the wall for him, even though he'll probably be a very good player.

What are you basing that on mate? I haven't seen a single thing from him that makes me think he was worth anything near £20m. Yes he has decent technique and sometimes strikes the ball well, but he's utterly heartless from what I've seen. As I've said before, he's a bad Euro-Downing.

I'd sell him ASAP in the hope he still has a reputation in Europe. We could hedge our bets with a sell-on clause but I think he'll just stagnate as a player and depreciate in value if he stays here because he's not good enough and has shown no signs of becoming so.
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Also, on Can, he has it all to prove in this country. His ability is obvious and I really like his composure on the ball. However there are massive question marks over his mobility (both pace and stamina) in the context of the demands, not just of BR's preferred high-pressure game, but English football as a whole.

I hope he can address those concerns because he's looked imperious at times.
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It seems to be a pre-season where we are using those players whom the manager might actually use during the season. We might yet see one of two of those used thus far be moved on whether outright or merely on loan, and of course we still have a few players who've not yet been involved but who will be (Sturridge if he ever gets fit, Firmino, Coutinho, Benteke if he signs).

 

It used to annoy me when we put out teams in pre-season full of players we had no use for in the upcoming season. All that fitness and prep work was being wasted while the players we were going to be counting on needed another month or so before they could hit the ground running. In those situations, managers always spout shit about giving players a chance but you already know the players involved will be squad filler at best.

 

As an aside to that last point, Mourinho has been talking about giving chances to his young players in pre-season but history shows they will get nowhere near the team because he'll be happier to sign experienced players to fill squad gaps rather than give youth a chance. 

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Agree that it's difficult to see a position for Can.

 

However, Didi Hamann was in no way mobile but was still smart enough and intuitive enough to be a brilliant defensive midfielder. Clearly very different players, but maybe Can will have the smarts to make a go of it when he gets his chance.

 

If anything, he looks more suited to the QB role that Gerrard excelled at the season before last. He certainly has the passing ability.

 

Anyway, some good headaches for Rodgers when everybody's back.

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For those with shorter memories - the Chester Chronicle recently highlighed a  pre-season game from a few years back.

 

There were a few might-have-beens and never-wassers on the pitch that night!

 

http://www.chesterch...-city-1-9489341

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I really like Can as a footballer, but football doesn't actually have a position for him.


Can and Makovic are both very young with time on their side. Allen and Henderson need big seasons, they've both had a few seasons here and need to improve their form and kick on which is why imo giving Hendo the captains armband is a big mistake, should have went to Skirtle or Milner with Henderson being told to improve his game and hold down his place.
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What are you having that on mate? I haven't seen a single thing from him that makes me think he was worth anything near £20m. Yes he has decent technique and sometimes strikes the ball well, but he's utterly heartless from what I've seen. As I've said before, he's a bad Euro-Downing.

I'd sell him ASAP in the hope he still has a reputation in Europe. We could hedge our bets with a sell-on clause but I think he'll just stagnate as a player and depreciate in value if he stays here because he's not good enough and has shown no signs of becoming so.

 

I just think there's something there and he'll be a good player for someone, probably not us though.

 

I doubt we'll get much if we sell him now, but I think he's enough of a talent that if we loaned him out he could rebuild his reputation and value.

 

Keeping him when he's 5th in line for a wide position is risky in the extreme.

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I think we might see both ibe and lallana start the season, especially if benteke is starting, as they both are terrific crossers and good at holding the ball up in and around the box whilst running into channels.

Personally against stoke a midfiels three of milner, hendo with can in a cdm role would offer the defence a lot of stability.

I think the 4-2-3-1 we've been seeing will be useful in games we should be winning or open attacking games against teams like arsenal and so on. I really think we should approach the Stoke game with a solid defence and aim for a 1-0 rather than go full hog and potentially lose 3-2 or something.
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I think you lot are being way too harsh on Emre Can.

 

I thought that last season, Can was mostly ace. I think Can mostly outperformed Henderson too, and I also don't understand those questioning the kid's mobility, I thought he showed a good engine and a decent turn of pace.

 

Weirdo's.

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Mate- there is no way he outperformed Henderson as part of the midfield. He looked strong for a period as the right CB, then faded a little as the season ground down.

 

He's pretty fast, just not quick. so at times, especially at fullback he was done.

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Mate- there is no way he outperformed Henderson as part of the midfield. He looked strong for a period as the right CB, then faded a little as the season ground down.

 

He's pretty fast, just not quick. so at times, especially at fullback he was done.

 

Agreed, the kid looked lost at full back.

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Also, on Can, he has it all to prove in this country. His ability is obvious and I really like his composure on the ball. However there are massive question marks over his mobility (both pace and stamina) in the context of the demands, not just of BR's preferred high-pressure game, but English football as a whole.

I hope he can address those concerns because he's looked imperious at times.

Agree with all of that, especially after watching him in the U21s tournament. He's at his most impressive when pressing forward from deep, with space in front of him to move into. However, when required to perform defensively, he's a bit Gerrard like - strong in the tackle when he gets there, but positionally not great, not that quick to spot danger or get across the ground to snuff it out. Germany played him in a more advanced midfield role against Portugal, I think it was, and he was ineffective - partly because the Portugese midfield dominated and he didn't get on the ball much. They moved him further back in the 2nd half - but the Portugese were already about 4 up by then. Terrific footballer, great potential, but a bit of a challenge to find the right position to get the most out of him.

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