After Liverpool flew home from their USA tour as they undergo their final preparations for the new season, Ben Twelves discusses how the trip was a real success for the club.
Pre-season tours, showcasing the magnificent football club that is Liverpool to ever increasing audiences around the globe, are something that have come to be expected in the modern game. It’s almost become a ritual before the season kicks off and a standard procedure within the game that is excitingly anticipated.
As with anything, the money-spinning tours that prove so lucrative have their pros and cons, but it’s fair to say that Liverpool’s 2014 USA tour certainly enjoyed far more of the positives that come with summer trips than the negatives.
Commercial & Financial Interests
Whether it’s liked or not, pre-season in the current football climate is just as much about regaining fitness and easing your way back into the new season, as it is boosting the clubs’ profile where possible and picking up a handy financial windfall along the way.
For purists, it’s saddening that when local clubs like Accrington Stanley and Tranmere face another desperate battle for survival in the doldrums of the football league, clubs like ourselves don’t shun the tours to offer a ‘showcase’ friendly to help keep our neighbours afloat (Preston North End aside). But as nice a thought that is, well-meaning fixtures and games against those respective opposition certainly won’t help fund the signings of Lazar Markovic and the like.
Liverpool will receive an extra £2 million for playing in the ICC final on Monday.
— This Is Anfield (@thisisanfield) August 3, 2014
That’s why the financially rewarding trips to places previously never visited are a necessity in today’s game. Doing so represents easy money to the clubs’ hierarchy and Liverpool pocketed a healthy sum for travelling across the pond this time round – including an extra £2million bonus for reaching the final of International Champions Cup – another profile boosting exercise.
Aside from the obvious commercial and financial gain however, this year’s pre-season tour had an extra edge to it – an edge not experienced by previous trips to destinations where we’ve played one or two games in isolation before moving on to the next stop.
LFC US Tour Attendances
New York: 49,653
The competitiveness that came with the USA tour was a welcome feature of the trip and the chance to play against some decent opposition in the process – with something, albeit ultimately insignificant to play for – raised the performance levels from what we’re used to seeing at this time of footballing calendar year.
Performance wise, it’s very difficult to judge how we will fair going into the new campaign from a few friendly matches but the Guinness International Cup provided an added focus. It allowed the chance for backup and squad players to provide food for thought for our manager, and even put themselves in the shop window, due to the unusually challenging opposition we were up against.
The raised standard of games, due to being competed in a tournament format, allowed us to see those fringe players and forgotten men like Sebastian Coates and Martin Kelly against good players and teams with a little more accuracy in being able to judge performance levels, rather than impressing against lesser opposition.
Give me a largely irrelevant friendly competition involving depleted but decent sides like AC Milan, Real Madrid and Man United any day over the annual mundane fixtures against a poor Malaysian XI who even made Iago Aspas look an exciting talent.
A semi-competitive edge provides a little more incentive to ensuring those players and the squad keep progressing nicely ahead of the new campaign. The tempo of the games – as seen against United – only helped to increase fitness and while it was a meaningless result; the fact that it was Man United meant a little more went into the exercise.
The tight time frames between games – such as the small 48 hours between the last group game v Milan and the final versus United – provided another test for the squad and gave the players a different aspect to adjust to. It helped prepare for worst case scenarios with away Champions League fixtures midweek followed by the early Saturday kick off that we used to be so often on the receiving end of.
Rodgers: It’s been a good tour, overall been an excellent tournament for us in our quest to get fit. — This Is Anfield (@thisisanfield) August 5, 2014
The tour provided a fantastic experience for the new signings and an even an eye opener and a realisation of what Liverpool Football Club is all about for them, when considering the magnitude of support the Reds received in the US. It will also have assisted with building relationships with team-mates off the pitch as well as on, as down time will have been spent with new colleagues.
Brendan Rodgers thanks the people of USA for their fantastic support on the #LFCTour http://t.co/7boU9edyQp pic.twitter.com/pv5vRQJLde
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) August 5, 2014
Wherever the Liverpool Football Club name travels around the globe, the welcome that’s offered by the masses of the Reds support to players and staff together never fails to amaze.
The power of the club shouldn’t be underestimated, and opening up, playing well and reaching final stages in front of adoring fans will only benefit the clubs’ profile, making the USA tour of pre-season 2014 a real success ahead of the new campaign.