Did We Learn Much From The Weekend?

I don’t watch much women’s football. That is nothing to do with the fact that it is women taking part and everything to do with me not having the mental capacity to watch anything other than the Liverpool first team. I don’t even watch Liverpool Under-23s, so it is absolutely not because of sexism. I watched some of the Women’s European Championship final last night and enjoyed it. I was so very pleased for the Lionesses (awful name) that they were able to get the win over the line, achieving a win in the Euros before the men’s team was able to. I was also delighted at the manner in which the country as a whole got behind the team, proving that women’s football deserves as much respect and focus as the male equivalent. There will be bores all over England who refuse to acknowledge that last night’s win was real football, so it’s great that it is being given the same sort of treatment as a win for the men would be by most.

Though I personally don’t follow women’s football, I know a lot of people that do and I’m delighted for them that they get to enjoy this moment. Perhaps you also don’t watch women’s football and hate people going on about it. All I’d say is that no one is forcing you to enjoy it or get involved. All people want is for those that do invest time in it to have fun. In my eyes, it’s a little bit like the debate around pronouns or conversations about people’s sexuality. I don’t need to be non-binary or a member of the LGBTQ+ community to be happy for those that are to live their lives free of criticism, judgement or hatred. I am not comparing the two, of course, apart from the fact that it will be the same bunch of bigots and bellends that aren’t pleased about those involved enjoying themselves. I would like to think that I don’t tend to attract such people to my site and make clear my feelings on the matter on my Twitter account, but thought I’d say it so my feelings were clear.

Liverpool Looked Bright

As I said in my piece on this site last week, the Community Shield is a friendly. Treating it any other way is a silly thing to do, especially when you consider that Liverpool don’t even include wins in the competition on the club’s Champions Wall. Even so, no game against Manchester City is completely meaningless in the current climate. Pep Guardiola’s sports-washing outfit have been the only thing standing in the way of the Reds witnessing an era of dominance over the past couple of years, so bloodying their noses early on in the campaign can only be seen as a good thing. That we did it in such relatively emphatic style will be extremely pleasing for Jürgen Klopp and his staff. I honestly thought that the Reds looked tremendous during the opening half an hour of the match, making City look bang average as they struggled to find their rhythm. They are too good a side not to do so eventually, of course, but we weathered the storm relatively well.

It is, of course, impossible to talk about anything to do with Liverpool in an objective manner. Yet I do feel as though independent observers will have felt as though we looked more settled and as though we’d used our pre-season well over the course of the 90 minutes. I also thought that Darwin Núñez looked more like an integral part of the team than Erling Haaland did in the City side. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be putting the Danish forward in my Fantasy Football team and expect him to get close to the 20-goal mark this season, but I think it might take the Cityzens a little while to work out how he fits into the side when compared to us and the Uruguayan. Given that City have effective bought Haaland to help them win the Champions League and we’ve bought Núñez to get us over the line in the Premier League, things might well be working out exactly as both manager expected them to this early on in proceedings. Only time will tell on that front.

Our Pre-Season Has Done What It Was Designed To Do

There are some people that read in to every time a ball is kicked during pre-season. They pour over the matches and the training sessions that the club put out, wondering what they can learn from what they’re watching. I am not one of those people. There is very little that last night’s result against Strasbourg can tell us, other than the fact that Anfield coped well with the return of supporters. The team was one that we’re not even likely to field in the domestic cup competitions this season, let alone in a Premier League match. It will have felt entirely pointless to those that watched it on TV or paid to be in attendance at the ground, but Jürgen Klopp and his staff will know exactly what they have learnt from the experience. Pre-season is partly for letting the new players get to know one another, partly to try new things on the pitch but mostly about getting players fit for what is to come. With a World Cup in the middle of the campaign, getting a fast start could be crucial.

Fulham will not be looking forward to their game against us at the weekend, I think that’s entirely fair to say. West Ham, on the other hand, might well have seen some weaknesses in Manchester City that they’ll be keen to exploit if they’re able to. Though City’s start to the season is much more kind than ours in terms of the fixtures, I feel as though we’re better placed to hit the ground running than they are. As Mike Tyson once said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” I might read this article back in a month’s time and wonder what on earth I was going on about, considering the fact that City won their first four games and we dropped daft points all over the place. It doesn’t feel like that’s what is going to happen, though. In a sport of fine margins and a title race that is likely to be decided by even finer ones, this weekend showed me that we’re ready for the fight to come. Now let’s hope that we don’t get hit in the face.

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