LFC Pre-season – Liverpool v Tranmere preview
The break is over – pre-season starts here.
Schools still haven’t broken up for summer and the Euro 2016 Final isn’t until Sunday but Liverpool aren’t hanging about waiting for anyone this summer with pre-season beginning this evening when they travel across the Mersey for a match against Tranmere Rovers.
This season is the one where the Jurgen Klopp era gets underway in earnest. Last season he came in with proceedings already underway and took Liverpool to two finals without being able to do a great deal to halt the club’s decline in the league. Now, with the ink still drying on a new six year contract, Klopp begins his first full season in charge.
The poor league finish and the defeats in both of those finals meant the Reds did not qualify for Europe this season and that in many ways might be seen as a blessing. The last time Liverpool came anywhere near winning the league was in 2014 when a Brendan Rodgers side capitalised on a lack of European football by taking their title challenge right to the wire. Can Klopp go one better this season? If you fancy the Reds’ chances check out Thats A Goal for the latest odds.
The game against Tranmere will give some of the club’s younger players and one or two fringe players the opportunity to show the manager a little more of what they can do, an opportunity that will be much rarer in the season itself with Klopp far less likely to need to rotate his squad over any concerns relating to tiredness or fatigue.
For some players it might also serve as a brief moment in the shop window as Klopp continues to get his squad into the shape he wants it to be, with more players surely to be brought in and any number still to be shown the door. Of course the game is also designed to get the players themselves in shape with Klopp hinting last season that he felt his squad were struggling to meet the physical demands of the pressing game he likes to use.
The Liverpool involvement in Euro 2016 came to an end with Germany’s departure last night, Emre Can the last Reds player taking part in the tournament, but all those who went over are yet to return to training, along with Philippe Coutinho who was involved all too briefly in the Copa America.
Goalkeepers Simon Mignolet and Danny Ward are amongst those still to come back from France and that means Jurgen Klopp gets the chance to start his new goalkeeper Loris Karius between the sticks should he choose to.
Outfield the boss is likely to make any number of changes as he eases the players back but there could be a debut at some point for new boys Joel Matip and Sadio Mané with Klopp also getting a first opportunity to see at close hand whether or not Lazar Markovic should be part of his plans.
Other attacking players on hand for Klopp include Danny Ings and Roberto Firmino but with so many of the Reds midfield away with their countries we could see Brannagan and Chirivella given the nod this evening.
Sakho is still under the cloud of his UEFA doping charge and unlikely to be involved but Dejan Lovren is available at the back as is Alberto Moreno. Jon Flanagan may well be one of those players Moreno has to battle for a place against this season but with Clyne away with England Klopp is likely to give both a run-out.
Kick-off is at 7pm and the game is being shown live on the club’s official TV channel.