10 Things to Watch out for in Liverpool's Pre-Season Tour
A big summer looms for Liverpool as they prepare to continue their rollercoaster of a year of progress in 2013-14, and the pre-season campaign will be integral to it.
There's many questions to be answered: How will Liverpool cope with life after Luis Suarez? Where will Adam Lallana fit into Brendan Rodgers' system? Which youngsters will follow in Raheem Sterling's footsteps and break into the team?
The Reds' pre-season campaign should go someway toward answering some of those questions, with Liverpool set for a busy schedule of fixtures:
- 16 July – Brondby (Copenhagen) – 6 p.m. local
- 19 July – Preston North End (Deepdale) – 3 p.m. BST
- 23 July – AS Roma (Fenway Park, Boston) – 7:30 p.m. EST
- 27 July – Olympiacos (Soldier Field, Chicago)– 5 p.m. CST
- 30 July – Manchester City (Yankee Stadium, New York) – 7 p.m. EST
- 2 August – AC Milan (Charlotte, North Carolina) – 6:30 p.m. EST
- 10 August – Borussia Dortmund (Anfield) – 12:15 p.m. BST
Experiments with Systems
Rodgers had been building his Liverpool project around Suarez, but with the Uruguayan forward on the verge of a £75 million move to Barcelona, as per the official Liverpool FC website and The Telegraph's Chris Bascombe, a shift in tactics will inevitably occur.
Despite the transfer rumours linking Liverpool to a range of attackers, as per Mike Whalley of ESPN.co.uk, it is impossible to replace a player as world-class as Suarez.
A wide two of Lazar Markovic and Lallana, with Sterling operating in the middle, supporting Daniel Sturridge upfront would be a threat to any Premier League defence.
Instead, Rodgers will use the pre-season to build his team in other ways, including different shapes, systems and formations, ready for the two-pronged attack on the league title and Champions League.
Following the success of readjusting Steven Gerrard's game to fill a deep-lying playmaking role in front of the back four last season, it will be fascinating to see where German Under-21 international Emre Can fits into Rodgers' plans.
No doubt the former Bayer Leverkusen midfielder will absorb many lessons from Gerrard's experience, but will he also be able to stake a claim in the first team?
Pre-season could teach Liverpool fans a lot about the 20-year-old.
The end of the 2013-14 season brought about feelings of shock and emptiness for Liverpool, losing the title off the back of two disappointing results late in the campaign after an 11-match winning run.
For Liverpool's England contingent, that was followed by a dreary World Cup campaign in Brazil and for captain Steven Gerrard, a barrage of criticism.
It will be vital that Rodgers uses pre-season to reinstate the confidence, the hunger and the desire seen earlier this year into his squad.
After sealing his dream move to boyhood club Liverpool prior to the World Cup, Rickie Lambert may well know that his best chance of making a claim for a regular first-team place at Anfield will be with an impressive pre-season.
The 32-year-old will no doubt be an important squad player for the Reds, giving Liverpool a very different option from the bench, but can he use the lead-up to the new season to his advantage?
Amid speculation linking Lucas Leiva with a summer move to Italy, as per Simon Jones of the Daily Mail, pre-season could be make-or-break time as far as the Brazilian's Liverpool career goes.
Having suffered from two long-term injuries, Lucas' game looked slow and off the pace during 2013-14 in a Liverpool side rampant with attacking threats.
Some decent performances in pre-season may still yet save Lucas' career at Anfield, but first-team football elsewhere could be a better option for the 27-year-old.
At the beginning of last season, Liverpool were all about "SAS"—that is, Suarez and Sturridge. Their formidable partnership was punishing Premier League defences up and down the country.
That soon became "SASAS," with Sterling joining the attacking party—arguably Liverpool's most in-form player of the second half of the season.
Without Suarez, and new attacking players coming in, Liverpool will look toward Sturridge and Sterling, as well as Philippe Coutinho, in steadying the transition this pre-season.
The value of a good pre-season can never be undervalued, and a decent set of results against whoever the opposition can boost confidence ahead of the start of the Premier League season.
It created unity, cohesion and a winning mentality ahead of an incredible season of progress for the club.
Lallana's big-money move to Liverpool this summer inevitably brings with it a weight of pressure on the England international's shoulders.
Yet another option for Rodgers to use in his growing attack, Lallana's creativity and dynamic runs will be showcased in Liverpool's pre-season campaign.
With so much competition for starting places at Anfield, the 26-year-old must use the summer to stake his claim in the team for the forthcoming campaign.
Before Liverpool's World Cup players return from their extended holiday, there's ample opportunity for some of the Reds' rising young stars to impress Rodgers.
Expect bright glimpses of Ryan McLaughlin, Brad Smith, Andre Wisdom and 17-year-old Jordan Rossiter in the opening games of the summer.
Unwanted New Liverpool Suarez Shirts
As Liverpool travel the world in preparation for the new season, simultaneously promoting their brand and global appeal, there could be many fans watching on in the new 2014-15 shirts with Suarez's name and number on the back.
Controversially, Liverpool are refusing to refund fans who recently purchased shirts with "Suarez 7" on the back, despite his imminent exit.
Joe Brice, a father who had bought his nine-year-old son an £80 Suarez shirt, told Joshua Taylor of the Liverpool Echo:
I contacted Liverpool to ask if they would be prepared to exchange the shirt for another named player if he is sold.
Liverpool have refused, should this happen, to exchange the shirt (for one) with the name of a player who’ll actually be playing for them in 2014/15. This represents corporate greed at its very worst.
They are prepared to make financial gain from Suarez by selling shirts with his name on, despite then selling him and not recompensing those supporters such as my son.