Liverpool manager, Jurgen Klopp, held his second pre-season training session on Sunday, as the team begins preparations for the 2016/17 season. It will be Klopp’s first full season in charge and expectations are high. There were a number of new and returning faces at Melwood and the only players not to take part, were those who have been on international duty this summer.
New signings, Sadio Mane, Joel Matip, Loris Karius and Marko Grujic all took part in the training session and Mario Balotelli, Luis Alberto, Lazar Markovic and Allan all made a return to Liverpool training, having been out on loan last season.
New fitness coach, Andreas Kornmayer, was present at training and it is thought Klopp will be placing plenty of emphasis on physical training during the pre-season, as the German aims to get the players fit enough to employ his pressing game from the off next season. Playing performance is something which Klopp has often let take a back seat during pre-season with his former clubs, in favour of physical conditioning and this could be the case, in his first full pre-season with Liverpool.
The Liverpool players need to be prepared for a great deal of repetition, as Klopp is renowned for repeating pre-season training drills over and over again until they are ingrained in each player’s mind. Players who worked under Klopp at Borussia Dortmund have commented on how they were so exhausted following their pre-season training, all they wanted to do was go to bed after the sessions were complete.
In the past, Klopp has taken his team to live in the Swedish wilderness and on water rafting trips. Whether the Liverpool squad will be subject to anything like this remains unclear but it helped to form a team spirit and unity at both Mainz and Borussia Dortmund, along with a belief the team could overcome anything or anyone. However, with the number of friendly games on the Liverpool calendar, it’s unlikely the squad will be left to fend for themselves anytime soon.
The first pre-season friendly kicks-off on Friday 8th July, against local opposition in the form of Tranmere Rovers. Following this, are a group of away matches against Fleetwood Town, Wigan Athletic and Huddersfield Town. Each of these games will be used as training sessions, with the final score being of little importance. Klopp has gone on record as saying the pre-season fixtures are not about beating their opponents but are a tool being used to ensure the team is at their peak, ready for the first Premier League fixture of the season. Klopp may not place much emphasis on the results of the friendly matches but players will want to get into a winning frame of mind before the Premier League season starts.
Following the above group of friendly fixtures, the team will travel to the United States and play Chelsea, AC Milan and Roma, before returning to the UK to play Barcelona at Wembley. The final pre-season friendly comes against Klopp’s old club, Mainz and this will be played away from home.
That’s a total of nine pre-season fixtures, which is an increase on the average friendly matches organised by Brendan Rodgers, during his time at Anfield.
The fact of the matter is, the players will not enjoy the hard training and fixture schedule which Klopp has lined up for them, prior to the first Premier League match of the season, at Arsenal. However, when the starting XI step onto the turf at the Emirates Stadium on the 13th August, fans can rest assured the players will fully understand what is expected of them and be in the perfect physical shape, to deliver Klopp’s game plan.
With hard work, comes great reward and the Liverpool squad will need to keep this at the forefront of their thoughts, during what is going to be a tough pre-season schedule.