Kickoff at the Tivoli Stadium in Tirol is 7.20pm (UK).
Liverpool: Kelleher; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Matip, Tsimikas; Milner, Keita, Elliott; Salah, Mane, Minamino
Substitutes: Adrian, H.Davies, Van Dijk, Gomez, Phillips, R.Williams, Koumetio, Robertson, N.Williams, Bradley, Beck, Clarkson, Cain, Morton, Jones, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Gordon, Jota
Liverpool will play two 60-minute friendlies against Serie A side Bologna next week, with Jurgen Klopp confirming their plans ahead of a move to France for the next stage of pre-season.
The Reds had been expected to schedule another friendly between Thursday night’s clash with Hertha Berlin and the Anfield double-header against Athletic Bilbao and Osasuna.
It was then reported that Bologna would be the opposition as Liverpool move from Austria to France for a brief training camp.
Speaking to LFCTV before Thursday’s clash with Hertha, the manager has now confirmed that his side will play two 60-minute friendlies against the Italian club.
“It’s now the last game in Austria, then we go to France, we have two 60-minute games against Bologna there,” Klopp said.
“Then we get home – finally, Anfield is calling! We’re getting closer. The season is not too far away anymore, so we should be better prepared.”
Liverpool have confirmed the two friendlies will be played on August 5, with kickoffs at 3pm and 5pm (BST), though the exact location hasn’t been announced.
This would suggest that the games will be held at the Reds’ training camp in Evian behind closed doors without fans in attendance.
Bologna finished 12th in last season’s Serie A, and have friendlies lined up against Dortmund (July 30) and Pordenone (August 8) either side of their clashes with Liverpool.
Virgil van Dijk is in the Liverpool squad for the first time in nine months tonight, with the centre-back on the bench for the pre-season friendly against Hertha Berlin.
The Reds close out the Austria leg of their pre-season schedule by taking on Bundesliga club Hertha Berlin, following an unbeaten run against Wacker Innsbruck, Stuttgart and Mainz.
It has been a steady summer for Jurgen Klopp‘s side so far, with key players eased back to full fitness and players returning from internationals getting minutes as the weeks go by.
Tonight could bring a landmark as Van Dijk looks to play for the first time since suffering his ACL injury in October’s Merseyside derby, with the Dutchman on the bench.
Ibrahima Konate, Harvey Elliott and Takumi Minamino are among the starters in Innsbruck, with Klopp likely to take a similar approach to last week’s 1-0 win over Mainz, in which he started his strongest possible side and used his bench to manage their fitness.
After almost a week of uninterrupted training, fans could see a more fluid display this time around, though pre-season is all about gaining sharpness ahead of the Premier League kickoff.
The substitutes’ bench sees Joe Gomez take his place alongside Van Dijk, with it likely they both get minutes at some stage.
Following tonight’s clash with Hertha, the Reds are slated to play Bologna in France on August 5, before back-to-back meetings with Athletic Club (August 8) and Osasuna (August 9) at Anfield.
Liverpool: Kelleher; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Matip, Tsimikas; Milner, Keita, Elliott; Salah, Mane, Minamino
Substitutes: Adrian, H.Davies, Van Dijk, Gomez, Phillips, R.Williams, Koumetio, Robertson, N.Williams, Bradley, Beck, Clarkson, Cain, Morton, Jones, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Gordon, Jota
The Reds recorded their first win of the summer when they met Mainz last week, which followed on from two 1-1 draws with Wacker Innsbruck and Stuttgart, and they’ll now look to add to it.
Another Bundesliga opponent awaits, a team that you may recall facing back in the summer of 2017 – it was a win that day and Klopp will hope for similar again.
A change in scenery has taken the team to Toril where Tivoli Stadion Tirol will host 15,000 fans as the Reds ramp up the intensity.
Here’s how we could see Liverpool lineup against Hertha Berlin on Thursday evening.Team News
The Reds emerged from the clash with Mainz without any fitness concerns and were instead handed a major boost.
After initially ruling Van Dijk out of the clash, Klopp would later reveal that the Dutchman is in line for minutes off the bench in a significant step in his recovery after over nine months on the sidelines.
“He looks really good in training and maybe we can bring [him in], but I need to have some final conversations. He looks ready and we will see,” Klopp said.
Notably, the match is set to see players build toward the 60-minute mark after mass changes at the 30 and 45-minute mark to date.
Goalkeepers: Adrian, Kelleher, Karius, Pitaluga, H.Davies
Defenders: Van Dijk, Konate, Matip, Alexander-Arnold, Tsimikas, Robertson, R.Williams, Phillips, Koumetio, N.Williams, Beck, Bradley
Midfielders: Milner, Keita, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jones, Woodburn, Cain, Clarkson, Morton
Forwards: Salah, Mane, Minamino, Origi, Elliott, Jota, Gordon, Musialowski
Not expected to be involved: Gomez, Thiago, ShaqiriLiverpool XI vs. Hertha Berlin
With the training load to increase for first-team regulars, we’re not going to see the mass changes at half-time rather incrementally throughout the second half.
All signs then point to a strong XI from kick-off, which would see Caoimhin Kelleher remain between the sticks behind a back four that could start on opening day.
Kelleher; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Matip, Tsimikas; Milner, Keita, Jones; Salah, Mane, Jota
In the knowledge that Klopp will field his strongest possible XI to push the team closer to completing a full 90 minutes, there remains a number of possibilities for the latter stages of the clash:
After one goal in each of the friendlies to date, attacking movements have been a focus in training over the last week and it’ll be interesting to see how that translates on the pitch.
Another boost to the team’s individual and collective fitness will be key, as too identifying areas of their game that can be improved heading into the season proper.
The family of Liverpool supporter Andrew Devine, who was injured in the Hillsborough disaster, have announced his death at age 55.
Devine suffered life-changing injuries in the disaster on April 5, 1989, and a coroner has concluded that his death was due to those injuries and that he – like the other 96 victims – was unlawfully killed.
It makes Devine, who was 22 when he attended the FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest, officially the 97th victim of the disaster.
Devine’s death comes after South Yorkshire police last month admitted to “serious errors and mistakes” that led to the unlawful killing of the victims of the Hillsborough disaster.
Despite that admission and despite an inquest in 2016 ruling that the victims were unlawfully killed due to gross negligence, nobody has ever been held responsible or charged for the disaster.
Last month a settlement was announced after South Yorkshire Police and West Midlands Police admitted statements were altered in the aftermath of the disaster.
Devine’s death and subsequent ruling from the coroner could see Liverpool FC replace the ’96’ emblem on the neckline of their shirts with ’97’.
Statement from the Devine family:
“It is with great sadness and a sense of immense loss that we can confirm that Andrew Devine passed away yesterday at the premature age of 55.
“Our collective devastation is overwhelming but so too is the realisation that we were blessed to have had Andrew with us for 32 years since the Hillsborough tragedy.
“We welcome the conclusion of the coroner, Mr Andre Rebello, made today at Liverpool Coroner’s Court, that Andrew was unlawfully killed, making him the 97th fatality of the tragic events that occurred on April 15, 1989.
“In the intervening years, Andrew has been a much-loved son, brother and uncle. He has been supported by his family and a team of dedicated carers, all of whom devoted themselves to him.
“As ever, our thoughts are with all of those affected by Hillsborough. We would ask that our privacy is respected at this sad time.”
Statement from Liverpool FC:
“Liverpool Football Club is deeply saddened by the passing of Andrew Devine, who died yesterday at the age of 55.
“A lifelong Liverpool supporter, Andrew continued to attend matches at Anfield when possible despite suffering life-changing injuries at Hillsborough on April 15, 1989. In doing so he defied expectations that he would not survive for six months after the tragedy.
“At an inquest held in Liverpool today, it was ruled that Andrew was unlawfully killed as a result of the disaster, providing a further tragic reminder of the toll that Hillsborough continues to take on all affected by it.
“The thoughts of everyone at the club are with Andrew’s family and his carers.
“It should also be noted that Andrew’s family have appealed for privacy and we would urge that this request is respected.”
To Andrew and the 96, You’ll Never Walk Alone.
Liverpool’s pre-season schedule continues with another Bundesliga outfit, this time in the shape of Hertha Berlin – with a formidable and familiar face set to return.
Jurgen Klopp‘s men already have three friendlies under their belt this summer, with valuable minutes injected throughout the squad and it’s the same again against Hertha.
With less than 17 days until the season opener, the Reds are back on the field of play on Thursday as they add another 90 minutes to the tally having already accumulated 150.
It will act as another valuable test for members of the first team and those looking to break into Klopp’s plans for the upcoming season, not to mention the return of Virgil van Dijk.
So, what will be in store against Hertha?When and where is the friendly?
Liverpool will make the short trip to Tivoli Stadium in Innsbruck, Austria on Thursday, July 29 to face Hertha, with kickoff scheduled for 7.20pm (BST) on LFCTV.
The game will be played in front of 15,000, with tickets having been available to those who are double vaccinated.Who is at the helm of Hertha?
Pal Dardai is at the helm after putting pen to paper in January, in what is his second stint at Hertha having previously led them between 2015 and 2019.
The 45-year-old’s spell in the second half of last season took a little while to get going with just one point from his first five league games, but 17 in the following 11 would see them close out the season in 14th position.
The hope will be that he can replicate his feats in the 2016/17 season that saw the club finish in sixth to secure Europa League football for the first time since 2009/10.
He certainly isn’t without motivation with the club close to his heart having played donned their colours from 1997 to 2011, meaning he has come up against Klopp as both a player and manager.Who are their key players?
Hertha wasted little time in strengthening their squad this summer, notably adding former Man City forward Stevan Jovetic, ex-Spurs man Kevin-Prince Boateng and Suat Serdar.
The trio are all expected to feature but they are to be without two of their key goalscorers from last season in Krzysztof Piatek, through injury, and Matheus Cunha due to Olympic involvement.
Winger Dodi Lukebakio, who scored the joint-second highest goals last season with seven, is to be relied upon, however.
Notably, Dardai’s son 19-year-old son Marton could also get a run out at centre-back after a breakthrough into the first team that amounted to 12 games in 2020/21.Any history with Liverpool?
There have been four pre-season friendlies with the German side throughout the years, the most recent of which you may recall back in the summer of 2017.
Hertha played host on their historic home turf at the Olympiastadion Berlin in what was a celebration that saw both clubs mark their 125th anniversary, aptly under the banner of ‘Celebrating football since 1892’.
The fixture saw Liverpool emerge as 3-0 victors, with Dominic Solanke, Gini Wijnaldum and Mohamed Salah all finding the net, with only three of the players named in the starting XI that day still at the club.
The result in 2017 was a notable improvement on the goalless draw in 2008, when Rafa Benitez was at the helm and when Jamie Carragher, Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger and Sami Hyypia were the centre-back options.
In regards to personnel in the transfer department, Marko Grujic spent two seasons on loan with Hertha in 2018/19 and 2019/20, joining Andriy Voronin (2008/09) as the sole double agents.
But Markus Babbel takes the crown for stepping into the deep end having been head coach from July 2010 to December 2011, where he led his Hertha side to promotion back to the Bundesliga.The return of our No. 4
It has been over nine months since Van Dijk last donned the Liverpool shirt, a painstaking wait that has required patience and caution throughout his journey.
But we need not wait any longer as the Dutchman is set to be handed minutes of action off the bench to mark his long-awaited return, the first step of many back to full match fitness.
Klopp said of the prospect: “I hope, I am not sure, that there is the opportunity that Virgil could play a few minutes.
“He looks really good in training and maybe we can bring [him in], but I need to have some final conversations. He looks ready and we will see.”
And on the matchup itself against Hertha Berlin, Klopp added: “I don’t like actually pre-season games when you win it four or five-nil – it can be the first game but they have no real value because it can lead you on the wrong path and all these kind of things.
“Making mistakes is not my favourite thing to do but if you make it then it’s easier to work on it and it’s the best time to work on it and we can sort that until the season starts.”
Liverpool are now preparing for their third pre-season friendly day, their fourth opponents overall, and it’s still a case of outs, not ins, with transfer work.Xherdan Shaqiri for just €10m?!
When Liverpool signed Xherdan Shaqiri for £13m a few seasons back, it was a bargain – decent player, squad depth, versatile, cheap as chips.
Except, with injuries, age and Covid finances, it now appears the Reds will actually make a loss on him.
He has mostly been mentioned alongside a £15m or so price tag until now, but reports out of Germany suggest he has been told he can leave for only £8.5million, a big drop-off for the Reds’ income hopes.
A move to the Bundesliga has been mentioned too, but until now it’s Lazio who have been most heavily linked with our Swiss winger.Reds rumours of the day
Click the image link above for all the latest pre-season news as we prepare for Hertha Berlin.
Meanwhile, you can see what our last remaining players have been up to before they return to training with the club!Latest transfer chat elsewhere
We will take it.
I see we are making predictions before the transfer window shuts and the teams can properly take shape.
So here is mine…
Liverpool will win the league this season.
I am taking no further questions at this time.
— Stephen Drennan (@babuyagu) July 28, 2021
Tonight’s late fixtures: Porto v Roma if you want some high-profile, Mourinho-derby, pre-season friendly action. Midtjylland vs Celtic if you want the latest installment of “Scottish Premiership’s European despair”.
Yasser Larouci‘s destination post-Liverpool is now known after more than a year in transfer limbo, with the Reds now to bank a small compensation fee as a result.
The 20-year-old consistently turned down a new offer to remain at Anfield in favour of a new challenge, despite having shown signs of a future under Jurgen Klopp.
But after making his desire to secure a move known last summer, the Reds acquired Kostas Tsimikas and further opportunities would not present themselves.
And as no move eventuated and contract offers resisted, it was a year of stagnation with only two appearances for the under-23s, but a fresh start now awaits the 20-year-old.
Larouci’s exit from the club was confirmed earlier in the summer after four years on the books, with Ligue 1’s Troyes now to be called home by the youngster.
Signing a five-year contract, Larouci will now look to make his breakthrough at senior level with the newly-promoted French outfit.
Troyes are owned by the City Football Group and his switch overseas will see Liverpool bank in the region of £250,000 in training compensation, as per FIFA rules.
He becomes the latest academy member to depart the club this summer following the sales of Liam Millar and Kamil Grabara.
Jurgen Klopp has been at the helm at Anfield for nearing six years and in his five-and-a-half seasons to date, a total of 45 players have scored – can you name them?
The Reds have been electric in front of goal since the German took the helm, scoring a total of 643 goals in 318 games.
Some have certainly been more prolific than others in that time, breaking records and pushing Liverpool towards four pieces of silverware.
On the other hand, others have chipped in with the odd strike here and there to ensure their career at Anfield ends with a tally in the goal column.
Here, we test your recollection of players that Klopp has witnessed scoring a goal for his side since he took the job back in October 2015.
Some may require more brainpower than others. Good luck!You have 8 minutes – can you name all 45? Want more quizzes? Try these!
Liverpool’s relentless red machine saw its key components dealt a cruel blow last season to disrupt a champions press but that is all to change in the coming season, writes Samuel Cox.
Last season’s compressed schedule and next to no pre-season ensured Liverpool suffered their worst run of injuries in recent memory, and noticeable holes in their pressing game opened, but they should not face the same issues in the season ahead.
Before Liverpool’s fantastic late-season run to claim third spot, there was a narrative that the reigning champions had lost their way. Certainly, they were no longer the metronomic winning machine of the season prior.
However, it was noticeable that Liverpool was still playing on the front foot and often still dominating territory, while often fading or conceding late.
A wider shift that occurred across the Premier League last year was a reduction in pressure acts, most notably with Manchester City who, under Pep Guardiola, are almost as religious in their high press as Jurgen Klopp.
The Guardian‘s Jonathan Wilson identified this shift midseason: by early January Manchester City had reduced their presses per game by 21.8% on season 2018/19 levels, noting how with a reduced pre-season and tightened schedule it had been a pragmatic change in game style by Guardiola which had greatly benefitted their defensive record.
By mid-February Liverpool led the way in attacking third pressure acts by a considerable margin:
1. Liverpool – 42.1
2. Leeds United – 37.3
3. Sheffield United – 36.0
4. Manchester United – 33.3
5. Manchester City – 32.9
— James Nalton (@JDNalton) February 15, 2021
By seasons end, all these teams had improved their averages, but Liverpool had pushed even harder and opened an even bigger lead, averaging a whopping eight more attacking third pressure acts per 90 minutes than the second-ranked team Leeds, and nearly 10 more than the fourth-ranked team in this metric and eventual champions Manchester City.
Indeed, while City showed a significant 20% reduction from the 2019/20 season in attacking third pressure acts per 90 minutes, Liverpool had an almost negligible 4% reduction.
Perhaps this is not surprising, as Klopp’s Reds show an almost religious adherence to the high press, their first article of faith is after all is that their ‘identity is intensity’, but amidst a compressed schedule, next to no pre-season and a raft of injuries, Liverpool were unable to adapt their game style.
The pressing problems faced were not problems in isolation, they were completely imbricated within the wider injury crisis pervading the squad – being both a cause and effect – and of course fan-less football.
A key part of Liverpool’s worst form mid-season involved an ever-revolving cast of centre backs, which by seasons end would total 20 partnerships, and disruption to the all-important midfield in front of them.
With Fabinho cycling between defence, midfield and the treatment table, Henderson absent at key points and Thiago adapting to Liverpool’s game on the fly, the Reds’ worst performances coincided with a breakdown and exploitation of their high-pressure game style, in midfield and transition.
In some ways, Liverpool’s defence regressed to its pre-Van Dijk mean.
In July 2018 I wrote a piece on This Is Anfield following the Dutchman’s first season at the club, noting the incredible improvement in Liverpool’s defensive record.
In the 24 games of the 2017/18 season preceding Van Dijk’s arrival Liverpool statistically averaged 1.17 goals per game conceded, which reduced to a remarkably low 0.71 goals per game following the Dutch international’s inclusion in the team.
Ultimately, despite the fact that during their run of poor form the record dipped lower, by the end of the 2020/21 season, Liverpool had conceded 42 goals across 38 games, for an average of 1.1 goals per game.
This suggests ultimately, Liverpool had done remarkably well.
Having lost their three first-choice centre backs, dealt with injuries across the team which caused them to field a revolving door of centre backs for much of the season, before settling on a former Stuttgart loanee who played just 22 games in Germany, Nat Phillips, and a lanky kid who was playing non-league football the season prior, Rhys Williams, Liverpool ultimately finished with a superior defensive record compared to the end of the pre-Van Dijk era.
In hindsight, I think it is possible to say Liverpool did not adapt the best to the unique conditions presented to them last season.
However, when considering the 2020/21 season as a whole it is still possible, somewhat paradoxically and thanks to that remarkable end of season flourish which secured third place, to say Liverpool overachieved.
It is noticeable that Liverpool’s best run of form occurred when the fixture schedule relented and a settled team was fielded.
With a new centre back signed, key personnel returning and a solid pre-season underway and many of Liverpool’s international players avoiding significant playing time in the Copa America and Euros, there is every sign that the personnel issues will not return anew.
In addition, the new season will be the first in two years with a ‘normal’ fixture schedule, which should mean the strain on the squad from the Reds’ high-pressure game should be reduced to normal levels.
This should assist the Reds in implementing their high press, including their physical ability to execute it, their work on tactical tweaks on the training ground and having the right personnel on the field to execute on matchday.
Last season, one of Liverpool’s greatest weapons became their most pressing problem, which only led them to redouble and refine their efforts as the league’s most aggressive attacking pressure team, all of which should stand them in good stead for the season ahead.
Liverpool appear to be offloading players before looking to buy this summer, so it’s probably worth entirely ignoring today’s “big” rumours!Italian media peddle blatant lies
Liverpool have been linked with Stefan de Vrij, on and off, for about four years. Unless there was anything in the suggestion that we might have signed him for free when he left Lazio, they have never been anything other than wide of the mark.
Still, despite us now having six centre-backs, having spent £35m on a new one and having the world’s best one back to almost-full-fitness, Tuttosport try to claim we’re ‘tempted’ by a €60m deal for the Inter Milan man – and that our big rivals for the move are Everton.
Apparently, they’ll move to the front of the queue based on the vague notion that they have told his agent Mino Raiola they’re interested – judging by Mino’s previous work, what would actually happen there is he’d say “OK, show me the signing-on fees for me and the player”, and there Everton‘s ‘interest’ would end.
Neither of the Mersey clubs are signing him.Reds rumours of the day
Latest Liverpool FC pre-season updates
Click the image link above for all the latest pre-season news regarding the Reds!
For today, though, the big news is that another friendly has been announced and Liverpool will take on Bologna on neutral territory before returning to Merseyside.Latest transfer chat elsewhere
Some goals live with you forever!!
Had a delivery today.
— Stan Collymore (@StanCollymore) July 26, 2021
The famous Uefa Europa Conference Vanarama Milk Cup League is back on tonight! Malta’s Hibernians against San Marino’s Folgore, love it. Elite European action. Elsewhere, Sevilla play PSG at 7 in a friendly for you streamers, and Boca Juniors play San Lorenzo for you overseas hipster types.
There was plenty to lament about Liverpool in the mid-1990s, but one classic match involved a dramatic comeback after being 3-0 behind to Man United inside 23 minutes.
During the 1970s and 1980s, the Reds were the team to beat in English football, enjoying a dominance that saw 11 league titles in 20 seasons, plus four European Cups in seven years.
In the nineties, however, Liverpool were on the slide, and more painfully, United had emerged as the force the Reds once were.
Alex Ferguson’s men ended a 26-year drought for a league title in 1992/93, in what was the inaugural Premier League season, and their stranglehold on the domestic game was only just beginning.
In January 1994 United strutted into Anfield looking to make a statement against their most bitter rivals – what happened next would prove to be a classic encounter and left Ferguson bemoaning: “That’s the first time I’ve ever lost a three-goal lead.”The match
In truth, there was little doubt over who the champions were going to be in the 1993/94 season, with Ferguson’s men 10 points clear by the time they headed to Merseyside.
On the flip side, Graeme Souness’ Liverpool were languishing closer to mid-table – eighth, to be precise – as their post-glory struggles continued.
The Reds’ starting lineup may have featured the likes of John Barnes, Steve McManaman, Robbie Fowler and Ian Rush, but Julian Dicks and Neil Ruddock were inadequate picks in defence and they were a mediocre outfit overall.
All that to say, United were clearly the favourites on that cold January evening, and for a while, it looked as though humiliation was on the cards for the Reds.
In a blistering first quarter, the visitors were too strong for their limited opponents, despite their missed opportunities, as those inside Anfield witnessed a nightmare coming true before their eyes.
LFC XI: Grobbelaar; Jones, Wright, Ruddock, Dicks, Clough, Barnes, Redknapp, McManaman, Rush, Fowler
It took United just eight minutes to open the scoring when Eric Cantona’s raking pass was clinically headed home by Steve Bruce.
Bruce has been the scourge of Liverpool as a manager too many times to remember – his Newcastle side drew twice against them last season – but he was a pest during his playing days, too.
A young Ryan Giggs then doubled United’s advantage with a clipped effort past Bruce Grobbelaar, before Denis Irwin’s inch-perfect free-kick found the top corner to see the Anfield scoreboard read a stark 0-3.
Fortunately, Liverpool managed to stem the flow almost immediately.
Nigel Clough, ultimately a disappointing signing, fired home from distance to give Souness’ side hope just two minutes after Irwin’s goal, but it still felt like a consolation.
It was then 3-2 before half-time as the game flipped on its head, as Clough, enjoying his most productive game in a Reds shirt, again beat Peter Schmeichel in ruthless fashion to breathe new life into Anfield.
Given some of the drab 0-0 draws that have taken place between Liverpool and United in recent times, it seems scarcely believable that one of their past meetings was 3-2 at half-time!
An intriguing second half ebbed and flowed, but it looked as though United had ridden the storm and earned another three points in champion-like fashion.
The much-maligned Ruddock had other ideas, though, bulleting home a 79th-minute header from Stig Inge Bjornebye’s cross and sending the home fans wild, with it now United’s turn to sit in silence.
“That was an outstanding advert for football,” said Souness post-match. “Though I can’t say I enjoyed our naive defending in the first 20 minutes.
“Yet once Nigel scored the first goal, I felt there was something in it for us because
the history of this club shows that we are capable of coming back from anything.”
It isn’t a season that Liverpool should ever look back on with any great fondness, but this spirited draw was a notable high point, causing frustration for Ferguson in the process – that was never a bad thing!What happened next?
Well, United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel claimed he was temporarily sacked the next day!
“It was my fault, that is what Fergie said,” he explained. “Because all my goal-kicks had gone straight to Razor Ruddock. It was ridiculous and I reacted, giving him a lot of abuse.
“The following day he called me into his office and sacked me. I didn’t want to stay anyway. So I said ‘Fine’.”
If only he had actually have left Old Trafford…
Meanwhile, Souness’ time as manager was in complete contrast with his legendary spell as a player, with the Scot a huge disappointment in charge of Liverpool.
In fact, it was only a few weeks after the United game that he resigned from his post, following an underwhelming spell that may have brought an FA Cup win, but also far too many negatives.
Roy Evans arrived in Souness’ place and began to stabilise matters on and off the pitch, even if he was unable to guide the Reds higher than eighth place in 1993/94.
He would build a brilliantly entertaining side in the coming years, playing a rich brand of attacking football and winning a League Cup in 1995 with a season-best finish of third.
McManaman and Fowler were the focal points of that team, dovetailing to great effect, and it could be argued that only the relentlessness of United prevented league glory from coming Liverpool’s way.
That 3-3 draw will forever live long in the memory and it remains the highest-scoring Premier League game between English football’s two most successful sides – joint with the Reds’ 4-2 win at Old Trafford in May.
Liverpool are back in action toward the end of the week, but pre-season training continues apace and the transfer business continues to flow in the meantime.Shaqiri wants out of Anfield
Three years of wondering when he’ll be fit, gasping at moments of brilliance and no end of comments about the size of his calves, but it could all be over soon.
Xherdan Shaqiri has confirmed that he wants to leave Liverpool this summer in search of more regular game time, having been unable to stay fit or consistent enough to be a go-to starter for Jurgen Klopp.
He has played his part in our successes, without question – just think of Barcelona! – but he says he is “ready for a new challenge” and that the club have “accepted” his decision to leave.
If he does get an offer or two, it will mean more money in the transfer kitty for the Reds – and we’ll surely have to sign an attacker to fill his multi-use role in the squad, too.Reds rumours of the day
Latest Liverpool FC pre-season updates
Click the image link above for all the latest pre-season news regarding the Reds!
Tweet of the day and match of the night
— Andy Robertson (@andrewrobertso5) July 25, 2021
Tonight’s friendlies include Las Palmas against Wolves. ‘Fraid that’s the best we can offer.
Now at the halfway point of their training camp in Austria, the intensity continues to build as the foundations for the season ahead are carefully laid.
Jurgen Klopp has already injected minutes into the legs of the majority of his squad with two 30-minute mini-games preceding the victory over Mainz.
But Thursday evening will herald another important stepping stone for the Reds, as Klopp has confirmed that both Jota and Robertson are to play their part following their arrival late last week.
The No. 20 was an unused sub against Mainz but he will get his first run out against Hertha Berlin on a day that should also prove to be a landmark one in the return of Virgil van Dijk.
Having earlier confirmed that the Dutchman is in line for minutes in his first outing since his injury back in October, Klopp provided another valuable squad update on Jota and Robertson.
“They will have minutes, that’s the plan. They obviously trained completely normal all the time now and we try to involve them,” Klopp told the club’s official website.
But they are not to be named as part of two different XIs at the start of each half, as the playing load for senior players is to increase with less than three weeks until the opener.
“For some of them it’s the plan,” Klopp continued. “Some of them are ready for 60 minutes, it will be hard for them definitely but it means then others play 30 minutes and stuff like this, or even maybe 20 minutes and these kind of things.
“We try. Pre-season is about trying, it’s a proper, proper challenge to make all these individuals to bring them in the best possible physical shape and make us more ready or stronger as a team.
“Unfortunately, football is not like cycling, so you don’t miss it completely but the pedals and stuff like this just go away so quick that’s incredible. So we have to work on that again, that’s what we do.”
Liverpool have confirmed that emerging right-back Conor Bradley has signed a new long-term contract with the club, six days on from his first taste of senior action for the Reds.
The 18-year-old headed into the summer with talks of first-team prospects as an understudy behind Trent Alexander-Arnold and his rise has been duly rewarded.
Bradley arrived at Liverpool in 2019 from Dungannon United and it’s been a strong couple of years of development for a player who earned a senior international cap for Northern Ireland before getting a taste at club level.
A hard-working and enthusiast right-back, Bradley made his maiden appearance for the Liverpool first team as part of the stronger XI against Stuttgart in the 30-minute friendly last week.
One of a plethora of youngsters in the mix throughout pre-season, Bradley was handed his opportunity in the absence of Neco Williams for what was an “incredibly proud” moment.
But Bradley’s path will depend on if Williams departs this summer, with the Welshman’s return seeing the 18-year-old fail to feature against Mainz.
While it will be a big step up from the under-23s, there is faith that he can perform as Klopp has long been a believer that if you’re good enough, you’re old enough.
But his time in Austria working alongside the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold, James Milner and Joe Gomez and testing himself against Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane will be an invaluable learning curve.
After his first Liverpool appearance against Stuttgart, Bradley spoke of his desire to impress and make a mark throughout pre-season.
“I just want to keep trying to better myself,” the young right-back said.
“Trying to keep improving and trying to impress the manager the best way I can do. I just want to keep working hard and see what happens from there.”
Bradley is the lastest of a batch of youngsters to either renew their terms or sign their first professional contract, following on from Melkamu Frauendorf, Mateusz Musialowski, Owen Beck, Harvey Davies, Luke Chambers and Oakley Cannonier.
The new season is fast approaching for Liverpool and with it comes a new range of kits, training gear and apparel from Nike for fans worldwide to get their hands on.
The Reds’ partnership with Nike is now heading into its second season and we’ve already seen the new home and away kit – the latter of which impressed many with its 1990s throwback.
While kits and apparel can often cause a divide in opinions, the vast range of options means there is something out there to suit everyone’s tastes around the world.
Whether it be a Liverpool hoodie, sweatpants, t-shirt, jacket or the training kit the player’s themselves don throughout the season, you have a lot to choose from.
And to lend a helping hand, we’ve picked out seven of our favourites from Liverpool’s new training range for the 2021/22 season.
Clean, simple and with no sponsors (the key selling point), this is one of the leading options from Nike’s range this season as it ticks one box after another.
It certainly looks comfortable and it’s a smart look whether you opt for teal or fossil, ideal for everyday wear and that’s why we love it.
It’s lightweight, has pockets and is a relatively loose fit to keep you comfortable as you stay dry.
This one comes in both men and women’s sizes, but the designs are slightly different as the latter fit has a hood while the former has a crimson look in line with the home kit.
A perfect option for the autumn and winter months!
The iconic swoosh is back and you really cannot go wrong with this classic tee, which is available in men’s, women’s and kid sizes.
There are a few different designs to select from and while simple in its look, it’s simply superb.
Who doesn’t love a bucket hat? And here, you get two in one with the reversible option for men and women which means more bang for your buck.
They look a lovely fit and are designed to help keep you dry and comfortable, what more could you want?!
There are few things as annoying as clothes having no pockets, but you don’t have to worry with these shorts as they come with side pockets.
A simple black look, with mesh lining and an elastic waistband is the ideal combination and they’re multi-purposeful for training or everyday wear. You couldn’t ask for more!
If you want to get your hands on a piece that Liverpool’s players will regularly don, then this is the one for you.
The elite version uses Nike Dri-FIT ADV technology and it comes in men and women’s sizes, but there is a version for various budgets and also one for the kids.
It’s stylish, certainly looks comfortable and in the cooler months is bound to keep you warm.
This one has already proved a hit, and it’s not hard to see why.
A black hoodie always hits the mark and the three stripes on both sleeves is a class touch that offers a pop of colour and a nod to the home and away kits.
Available in both men and kids sizes, and with matching sweatpants, this is one of our absolute favourites and you’ll want to add it to your collection!
Virgil van Dijk‘s recovery process is heading into its 10th month and Liverpool remain cautious and patient. But why is that so important in the route back to playing games?
Since Van Dijk sustained his ACL injury last October, the process following his reconstructive surgery has been well-documented, from post-surgical stages to his work in the training room and most recently training with the squad in Austria.
Although there were some early rumours of the Dutchman potentially returning late last season – which I always found to be a bit farfetched considering the risk/reward of coming back from an anterior cruciate ligament injury too soon, especially for a key position and leader – those would be squashed by Jurgen Klopp.
And any rumours of Van Dijk returning for the Euros would follow the same path, as he would rule himself out for the Netherlands – very much the right decision considering the risk of dropping a player straight into a high-intensity environment.
The decision to hold Van Dijk back certainly made sense. Research clearly shows the longer you allow the surgically repaired anterior cruciate ligament to integrate and heal, the better off the player will be – and there is some research showing nine months may be the key mark in terms of reducing reinjury risk.
And Klopp stressed they will “not risk it” when it comes to the 30-year-old on Friday, as “we have to be patient” and “prepare for a full season, not a pre-season game.”
It means he isn’t to feature in the next friendly, but now that we’re into 10 months since the injury and Van Dijk is going through the return to play process, when will the centre-back actually be able to feature in games?
To understand that, we have to understand what exactly goes into the return to play process at the latter stages and what the Liverpool training staff may be looking for prior to clearing him.
Although there are multiple different paradigms at play here and every medical and training staff will have different specific metrics or key criteria they’re looking for, there are key underlying factors and principles that guide return to play following major knee ligament injuries.Knee-Specific metrics
The first is specific to the knee itself. The training staff will constantly be assessing Van Dijk’s surgically repaired knee for how it responds to activity – particularly any increase in activity intensity.
For example, increasing sprint speed or change of direction speed – by gauging post-activity soreness and post-activity swelling. For the former, you’re looking for soreness that resolves within 24 hours and for the latter, you want very minimal swelling in the knee region.
Further, there’s side to side strength testing – for example using a computer-assisted tool called the Biodex – that measures and compares quadriceps strength on the injured and uninjured leg and measures the hamstring to quadriceps strength ratios as well.
These tests were likely used to clear Van Dijk to return to sports training in the first place but the training staff may be looking to really optimise them before return to match clearance.Movement-Specific metrics
From a movement perspective, the training team is assessing how Van Dijk is moving during his drills and particularly during multi-planar drills that require spontaneous movement and reactions. These drills emphasize the neuromuscular connection between the brain and body to create stability around the knee and coordination globally for the entire body.
Further, higher intensity activities like jumping and landing are being tested in multiple planes, looking for if the defender is able to control all phases of the leap and landing along with maintaining his balance.
Klopp recently mentioned that Van Dijk just began this high complexity, multiple phases of the game drills in the early stages of pre-season.Cardiovascular fitness
One of the most overlooked factors when returning from a long-term injury is simply regaining previous cardiovascular fitness levels, as in-game fitness simply cannot be replicated outside of it.
In Van Dijk’s case, that equates to 10 months of not having in-match fitness so the training staff will be using fitness benchmarks as an indicator of his potential in-game readiness.
These metrics are tested in numerous ways but the most recognisable may be the black vest that Liverpool players are often seen wearing during training, which measures key variables like heart rate.Psychological readiness
Last and certainly not least – and arguably the most subjective which makes it the most difficult – is the mental readiness part of the equation for Van Dijk.
More and more research is showing that following ACL surgery, kinesiophobia or “fear of movement or re-injury” is one of the last things to dissipate for athletes.
For that reason, it’s always important to observe if players are holding back on certain drills or avoiding contact. Is the Dutchman not going after that 50/50 ball in training or is he not putting that shoulder into the player when tracking a ball, etc.?
But Liverpool value and understand the psychological part of performance to the point they hired Lee Richardson to be their head performance psychologist.The upshot
All these factors – and there’s certainly room for more – play a part in the decision-making process to clear Van Dijk for games or not. There’s still a large gap between ‘healed’ and ready for games, a bridge that the No. 4 currently finds himself strolling on.
The good news overall is that there’s no indication Van Dijk has suffered any setbacks in his training. But it’s apparent the medical and training staff are being extremely methodical with his return and trying to minimize as much risk as possible so when he does get back, he’s as close to 100% as possible (although you still expect some issues after returning).
Considering the importance and stature of the player – along with how well Joel Matip has progressed following ankle surgery and the arrival of Ibrahima Konate to provide some cover – it makes sense to be as confident as possible that Van Dijk is ready to play in-matches prior to clearing him.
You can’t skip steps or you create risk.
The new season is nearly upon us, meaning our calendars will need refreshing as there’s plenty to look forward to for Liverpool throughout 2021/22.
The top of that list will be the return of fans on a full-capacity basis, or at least close to it, allowing for our matchday routines to resume normal service.
With that comes seeing Jurgen Klopp‘s men live in action with the backing of the much-missed 12th-man both domestically and, hopefully, in Europe.
There could also be some more new faces to cast an eye over by the time the transfer window comes to a close as the Reds look to plot their way back to silverware.
On that journey throughout 2021/22, there are plenty of notable hurdles to clear for Klopp’s side.Notable fixture dates
29 July – Hertha Berlin
8 August – Athletic Club, 75% capacity at Anfield
9 August – Osasuna, 75% capacity at Anfield
Notable season fixtures:
14 August – Norwich (A)
14/15 September – First Champions League group game
2 October – Man City (H)
23 October – Man United (A)
30 November – Everton (A)
7/8 December – Final Champions League group game
26 December – Leeds (H)
1 January – Chelsea (A)
19 March – Man United (H)
9 April – Man City (A)
23 April – Everton (H)Tickets sales and registrations
23 July to 30 July – Member registration for Premier League home games
2 August – Members sale for home Premier League games
16 August to 18 August – Season ticket holders auto cup seat selection
18 August to 20 August – Successful member auto cup seat selection
Other important season dates
26 August – Champions League group stage draw
31 August – Transfer window closes
30 August to 8 September – First international break
4 October to 13 October – Second international break
8 November to 16 November – Third international break
9 January to 6 February – AFCON
24 January to 1 February – AFC and CONMEBOL international break
21 March to 29 March – Fourth international break
Andy Robertson‘s preparations for the upcoming season got underway on Friday and he didn’t take long to disclose what’s on his mind in regards to targets to hit.
The left-back has been a key pillar of Jurgen Klopp‘s side for nearly four years, acting as a formidable member of the Reds’ creative hub.
And we’ve heard plenty of the friendly rivalry that exists between himself and Trent Alexander-Arnold in that department, to which his full-back partner has edged him each season.
The ledger sits at 42-37 to Alexander-Arnold since 2017/18, that won’t sit right.
Now Robertson is looking to develop one of the strings on his bow on a more consistent basis, which would require him to match his four-season tally with Liverpool in just one campaign.
To date, the Scot has just five goals to his name with the three in 2019/20 season his best return – now he wants to possibly double that and more in the upcoming campaign.
As part of his pre-season diary for LiverpoolFC.com, Pep Lijnders revealed what Robertson said his target was for the season.
“On his arrival yesterday evening, Robbo said he can get five goals this season,” Lijnders said.
“After this first session, he said he was thinking he might even be able to get seven, maybe!”
That you can picture Robertson making the declaration says everything and even if said in jest, you can rest assured that he’ll be looking to get one over on Alexander-Arnold – although Lijnders’ idea of a “perfect goal” would see him supply Robertson with the assist.
The No. 66 has 10 goals to his name as a Red with a season-high of four, and so Robertson’s target of five or seven would certainly look to see him have the bragging rights.
In a more broader sense, Liverpool could certainly benefit from having consistent goalscorers in their ranks as just four players have scored seven or more goals across the previous three seasons.
Liverpool are on the hunt for a forward to bolster their ranks this summer and for Harry McMullen, Chelsea‘s Tammy Abraham represents a more than viable option.
The 2019/20 champions are back on the title charge and with Ibrahima Konate already on board, Liverpool are reportedly still in the market for a midfielder and a forward.
But one name curiously absent from the rumour mill is Chelsea’s forgotten man, Tammy Abraham.
While the reigning European Champions are chasing superstars such as Erling Haaland this summer, the only Premier League proven No. 9 in the squad is being ushered towards the exit.
Is it a mistake for Chelsea to let him go? And would it be a mistake for Liverpool to overlook him?The numbers
The key metric for forwards – as Roberto Firmino is constantly reminded – is goals.
For his breakout Chelsea season in 2019/20, Abraham scored an impressive 15 goals – none of which were penalties – registering 0.73 goal involvements per 90.
This is famously higher than the 0.70 that fired Harry Kane to the Golden Boot in 2015/16 and one goal less in total than Liverpool’s prolific Mohamed Salah in the title-winning season, as seen in the table above.
He also has an impressive range of finishes in his arsenal, as he showed with his hat-trick versus Wolves in 2019:
While Thomas Tuchel was reportedly “frustrated with [Abraham]’s lack of intensity both with and without the ball”, in 2019/20 the Chelsea man, as per FBref.com, did produce 17.5 pressures per 90, including 9.8 in the final third of the pitch, with a 30.2% success rate.
These numbers actually aren’t far off Firmino’s 9.94 final third pressures per 90, with 31.1% success, which suggests that while the 23-year old isn’t a direct replacement, he could be coached into the Reds’ system.The system
Liverpool could also adapt to suit Abraham’s game, playing as a predatory No. 9 – getting in behind, stretching defences, scoring from anywhere inside the box. This could mean switching to the 4-2-3-1 — Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has been mooted as a possible No. 10 — but it wouldn’t need to.
We saw last season how teams frequently gave up the ball and focused on denying the Reds space, nullifying the threat of the false No. 9. And in the win over Sheffield United, we saw Liverpool tweak their 4-3-3 to accommodate this.
One drawback to this new setup was the reliance on Firmino to play as more of a pure No. 9, and this exposed the Brazilian’s shortcomings as a pure striker.
But the reality is that Firmino has always played like an attacking midfielder when leading the line because he is an attacking midfielder; his underperformance as a striker begins to make sense if you compare the 29-year-old’s goal tally to that of a No. 10.
By bringing in a player of Abraham’s profile, Liverpool could switch to this system more frequently, becoming more unpredictable and more effective as a result.The squad
Moreover, Abraham’s injury record is a big plus having missed just 14 games through fitness issues in his young Chelsea career so far.
Enforced absences clearly played a huge role in our previous campaign, and with both Salah and Mane jetting off to compete in the AFCON across January and early February, reliable forward cover is a must.
Liverpool are also walking a tightrope with regards to their homegrown player quota, which will factor into any further incomings. Narrowing the field solely to English players reveals Abraham to be the standout candidate.
In terms of long-term squad planning, the 23-year-old has a full six years on the current front three, who are edging ever closer to the 30-year milestone.
While he would already prove to be an upgrade on current forward backup in Divock Origi, Abraham – as well as 24-year-old Diogo Jota and 18-year-old Harvey Elliott – has time to mature into the role and eventually form a devastating new-look forward line as part of the squad’s natural evolution.The drawbacks
Abraham’s current exile at Stamford Bridge, however, suggests there is a tactical, physical or personal issue that has cost him his place in the Chelsea squad, with only 18 starts last season.
Liverpool have done well to avoid picking up damaged goods since the days of Mario Balotelli, so due diligence would be a must.
Secondly, the asking price is quoted to be around £40 million and that’s before you factor in the title rival and English player tax.
Chelsea are also banking on signing a superstar striker before letting their only recognised No. 9 depart, and with no deal forthcoming – plus deep pockets protecting them from a need to sell – it would likely take around £60 million to bring the player to Anfield.
While £41m signing Jota has excelled, is a fee in excess of that, for a player who would initially be the fifth choice forward, really worth it?The verdict
That links to Abraham have not materialised is no surprise due to the numbers involved, and the title rivalry between his parent club and the Reds.
However, his availability is sure to have triggered an internal review, and there is plenty of the summer transfer window still ahead to consider his profile.
Abraham is a young homegrown talent with a high ceiling, strong resale value and of Premier League pedigree – and so it comes down to if Michael Edwards and co. feel committing a sizeable fee for him would be smart business after all.
* This is a guest article for This Is Anfield by Harry McMullen. Follow Harry on Twitter, @mcmulhar.