Usually, around this time, Liverpool will have started their new Premier League campaign, or are gearing up for the return of it by returning to Melwood after a stacked summer of pre-season training abroad and exhibition matches in other countries. Last year they came here, to the United States, and played in Fenway Park in Boston when it was 96 degrees outside and 80% humidity. I was there and it was awesome and terrible all at the same time (mostly because of the sticky, melty humidity).
It’s August 17th, as you’re reading this, and Liverpool have only just started their pre-season training regime in Austria. The Community Shield, usually played between the winners of the FA Cup and the winners of the Premier League, is scheduled for August 29th. The start of the new Premier League campaign is scheduled for September 12th.
It’s so strange that so much of the year was taken from us, from the club. That everything has to be crammed into these weeks, that the players only got two weeks off instead of their usual six, before coming back to training.
Not that I would complain about training in Austria. Must be nice.
This doesn’t mean that the club has been taking a break either, as the work never stops behind the scenes at Liverpool FC. Even as there is so much that we don’t get to see as fans, we have to logically know that the club is grinding away at making things happen.
The summer of 2020 was supposed to bring a lot more change for Liverpool, and it has. A couple weeks ago Liverpool announced their new kit maker, Nike, with the unveiling of this year’s new shirts. After the past few years with New Balance, Nike is a big change and quite a bigger name than New Balance. New Balance, though, had endeared themselves to fans with classic designs that pulled on vintage styles. That 2017-2018 home shirt will probably go into history as one of the best shirts that Liverpool players have ever worn.
Nike has already divided fans — literally fans either love or hate the designs, or the company themselves. The Portland-based company promised new and fresh designs, and yet unveiled one of the simplest shirts out there, adding further fuel to the “template” argument. The away kit hasn’t fared much better, with a pattern they claim is inspired by the iconic Shankly Gates outside Anfield and a color taken from the Liverbirds atop the Royal Liver Building. It looks a little more like you stared into a pool for too long.
With the summer comes transfer season, as well. There had been loads of speculation on who was coming and who was leaving, and only three big changes have been made so far (although the window is still open so who knows what is to come). Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren, both steals from Southampton and two of our longest serving players, departed Merseyside at the end of the season a couple weeks ago. Lallana moved back south to Brighton, a team where he could make a huge impact and get more regular playing time. Lovren moved to Zenit St. Petersburg and while Mohamed Salah is naturally sad to lose his best friend, it was definitely time for a change for the Croatian defender.
That leaves our defenses a bit thin, and though we have some talented Academy kids waiting in the wings, a proven center back wouldn’t exactly be wasted money. In fact, though it looks like Liverpool won’t be doing much spending this year — proven by missing out on Timo Werner — they made the surprise announcement of signing a backup left back in Kostas Tsimikas.
Tsimikas came from Olympiakos, 24 years old and ready to make his mark on the Premier League. He’ll have a tough time unseating Andy Robertson but to have a proven left back on the bench rather than utility man James Milner available to the do the job is a huge relief. There’s a couple of the younger kids waiting for their chance as well, but someone like Tsimikas coming in with the experience in first team football will be a huge help instead.
To be fair, I haven’t ever watched the Greek league, or had any intention to, so I’ve never seen Tsimikas play. Not many people have, unless you’re a devoted Greek league fan, which might be hard to come by in the States. He’ll have plenty of opportunities, though, as with the new season will come a restart of all competitions and Liverpool will undoubtedly be looking to either maintain that Premier League title, regain the Champions League, and maybe add a domestic cup to that wall of ours. That’s a lot of competitions and now Robbo can split some of the work and we won’t have to worry so much if he gets injured.
The past few months there’s been loads, and I mean loads, of rumors that Thiago Alcantara is on his way to Liverpool from Bayern. No one will deny that he’s a talented player, but it would very much not be a modern Liverpool signing. At 29, his career is definitely slowing down and his position is firmly spoken for by captain Jordan Henderson. He also has a spotty injury record, with three injuries this season alone and most of his 2017-2018 season marred by them too. While James Milner is getting older, he’s still in mostly good condition and can still be depended on, but Jordan Henderson has made the central midfield role his own and if he’s fit, he plays.
There’s the other matter of the money, as Thiago is currently listed by TransferMarkt as worth $52.8 million. Bayern are certainly going to be asking very close to that and if Liverpool weren’t willing to pay that amount for Timo Werner, a younger and maybe more useful player, then it simply doesn’t make sense for Liverpool to do that business for an older and less reliable midfielder for a position that is well shored up. When Hendo is injured, we are not missing players that can do his job, we are missing Henderson himself but that’s in another post.
Summer is called silly season for a reason. Fans get silly with the transfer news, and the new kits, clubs go silly trying to add and subtract players that will make their teams better — hopefully. Just like spring is the season of rebirth for the rest of the world, summer is the season of rebirth for football. Every club, every club, does their best to make things better and try to prepare to do what they could not the season before. Liverpool fell out of the Champions League and the domestic cups, but we won our first league title in 30 years. There are not major changes that need to be made.
It’s time to sit in that Austrian sun with a nice drink and get ready to go again. Those cups won’t win themselves.