Liverpool legend Steve Nicol is of the opinion that the club’s defending during their pre-season matches so far has been disastrous.
After winning their 6th Champions League title in Madrid back in June, Liverpool’s pre-season has been pretty disappointing. The Reds began well with convincing wins over Tranmere Rovers and Bradford City. However, this was followed by successive defeats against Borussia Dortmund and Sevilla and a draw against Sporting Lisbon in the US.
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Following Liverpool’s US tour, they faced Napoli at Edinburgh yesterday and lost 3-0. Jurgen Klopp’s men, who conceded only 38 goals across all competitions last season, have now let in 11 goals in just six pre-season fixtures. LFC were without goalkeeper Alisson but have had the likes of Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez and Andrew Robertson available for some of their pre-season matches despite conceding a bucket-load of goals.
Former Liverpool defender Steve Nicol has expressed his concern over Liverpool’s defence but feels that things will get better when the season begins.
As quoted by the Express, Nicol told ESPN FC: “The rock that Liverpool really was built on over the last 18 months was their defence. So if you’re going to be losing goals the way they’ve been losing goals in pre-season, it really doesn’t matter who you’ve got up front because it’s been an absolute disaster.
“It is a worry, I’m sure they will start the season with the normal three up front, but they won’t be 100 per cent. That’s not how you want to start a season. I have nothing to say other than it’s pre-season. I’ve been part of a Liverpool defence that was rock solid as well but in pre-season we were letting goals in for fun.
“So the only thing I will tell you is that the difference between a pre-season game and a proper game is you’re completely switched on, you do a lot of things automatically. Pre-season you’re a yard slow and you’re overthinking most of the time.
“The goals we saw there [against Napoli], it wasn’t that Liverpool didn’t have players back, they had plenty of players back, but nobody’s shape, nobody’s thinking clearly, nobody’s making good decisions. Trust me, when the whistle goes for the beginning of the season, it will kick in. I’m not worried, I’m not worried.”
One can’t simply overlook the fact that a team whose defence is marshalled by a Ballon d’Or favourite has conceded 11 goals in their last 5 matches. However, it wouldn’t be fair to pass judgement based on a pre-season friendly that isn’t even an official game regardless of the team fielded. Even Real Madrid lost 7-3 to Atletico Madrid fielding a number of players who will be regulars in the upcoming season.
When Liverpool face Manchester City, they should have a full fledged squad that will have Alisson, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino along with other regulars. Then, we will surely see Liverpool’s true form.