NEW YORK, NEW YORK, USA - Wednesday, July 24, 2019: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp reacts during a friendly match between Liverpool FC and Sporting Clube de Portugal at the Yankee Stadium on day nine of the club's pre-season tour of America. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Reds show signs of improvement but “aren’t firing just yet” – Media on Liverpool 2-2 Sporting CP

The media were of the view that Liverpool showed signs of improvement during their 2-2 draw with Sporting CP, but they are still a ways off being ready for the season opener.

Jurgen Klopp’s side closed the curtains on their pre-season tour of the United States with a 2-2 draw against Sporting CP in New York, a game which saw a host of senior figures handed valuable minutes from the off as the new season draws closer.

It was Sporting who found themselves on the scoreboard first, however, after an individual error from Simon Mignolet saw Bruno Fernandes’ effort find the back of the net, before Divock Origi levelled later in the half.

Gini Wijnaldum edged Liverpool ahead moments before the interval only for Sporting to return the favour in the second 45 to ensure the Reds left the US without a win.

The Reds will now return to Merseyside before they face Napoli in Edinburgh ahead of their training camp in France.

Here’s how the media reacted to the draw at Yankee Stadium and Liverpool’s tour across the Atlantic as a whole.


Journalists lauded the performance of Wijnaldum after thriving in an advanced role…

Wijnaldum was positioned in a more advanced role in New York and the Liverpool Echo’s Ian Doyle was full of praise for the Dutchman who he felt provided “food for thought” for the boss:

The Dutchman stepped back in time to reprise the wide left role where he featured regularly earlier in his career.

It paid dividends when he was the furthest man forward to stretch the Sporting defence for the equaliser before netting the second himself.

An added option for Klopp or putting into context the alternatives? The Reds boss has been given some serious food for thought.

Similarly, ESPN’s Melissa Reddy thought Wijnaldum thrived in the role and provides another alternative in the position ahead of the new season:

He broke the lines well and continuously created space for himself, which gives Klopp another option in the position.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK, USA - Wednesday, July 24, 2019: Liverpool's Divock Origi (#27) celebrates scoring the first eqalising goal with team-mate Fabio Henrique Tavares 'Fabinho' during a friendly match between Liverpool FC and Sporting Clube de Portugal at the Yankee Stadium on day nine of the club's pre-season tour of America. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

While Karl Matchett, writing for This Is Anfield, was not shy in voicing an “absurdly early” prediction for the midfielder:

Ready for an absurdly early new season prediction? The No. 5 will be scoring at least eight this season and perhaps even pushing double figures.

And for’s Kristian Walsh, a host of other senior figures earned his admiration for their performances:

Henderson, in particular, is excellent, looking at his sharpest in one of the advanced midfield roles. Fabinho is not far behind him, literally and metaphorically.

Trent Alexander-Arnold is delivering like the world’s greatest mailman, and Origi is showing he still has that skill of being in the right place inside the penalty area.


Reporters couldn’t overlook Mignolet’s blunder and also voiced concerns over the situation at full-back…

SOUTH BEND, INDIANA, USA - Friday, July 19, 2019: Liverpool's goalkeeper Simon Mignolet during a friendly match between Liverpool FC and Borussia Dortmund at the Notre Dame Stadium on day four of the club's pre-season tour of America. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Writing for the Telegraph, Chris Bascombe thought Mignolet “resembled a mannequin” when he conceded the first goal, but did commend the Belgian for later redeeming himself with a double save:

He resembled a mannequin when conceding Liverpool’s opening goal. To give the error its full description, it is what is now technically called ‘doing a Karius’.

But credit the Belgian who was able to erase the blemish with a double reflex save to preserve Liverpool’s lead at half-time.

For the Mirror’s Mark Jones, there were two ways you could look at the error from Mignolet:

The first is that if you’re going to make such an error then you might as well do it in a pre-season friendly – and not, say, a Champions League final.

But the second is that if you’re going to make such a mistake when you get a rare chance to play then it probably shows just why your opportunities are scarce to begin with.

Doyle, meanwhile, was quick to focus on the lack of options at full-back following a plethora of injuries and the lack of action in the transfer window:

It was noticeable when Robertson was replaced that James Milner moved to left-back, a reminder of the shortage of full-back options brought into sharp focus by injuries on this tour to Yasser Larouci and Nathaniel Clyne.

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS, USA - Sunday, July 21, 2019: Liverpool's Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold after a friendly between Liverpool FC and Sevilla FC at Fenway Park on day six of the club's pre-season tour of America. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

And for Matchett it raised the question of if Liverpool should be looking to add to their ranks at full-back this summer:

We’re back to the less-than-explosive duo of Joe Gomez and James Milner as cover for the sides of the defence.


And there the question shall remain: should the Reds be looking for an additional squad member to fill that particular gap in the squad?

Finally, for Goal’s Neil Jones the situation ensures there remains a serious concern that an injury to both, or one of, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson could have “severe consequences”:

Certainly they look short of full-back cover.


They ended this game with Joe Gomez and James Milner there. An injury to either Andy Robertson or Trent Alexander-Arnold would have severe consequences, one fears.


Overall, the media saw steady signs of improvement but remain of the view that the Reds are yet to truly fire on all cylinders…

Doyle thought Liverpool showed signs of improvement against Sporting but felt there remains plenty to work on with just 15 days until the Reds’ league opener at Anfield:

While better than in defeat against Dortmund and Sevilla, there remains plenty on which Klopp has to work.

The continued absence of Liverpool’s key players must be taken into account, although none will have returned in time for the next friendly against Napoli at Murrayfield on Sunday.

But as the Reds embark on their long journey home, Klopp knows his team aren’t firing just yet.

Those views were echoed by Bascombe, who was also of the mind that the Reds were finally starting to look “more like Klopp’s Liverpool”:

Despite another winless encounter in front of a partisan crowd, there was an improvement against Sporting Lisbon.

It was a bit more like Klopp’s Liverpool even if miles from the real deal – the unusual features being defensive carelessness and obvious lack of a killer instinct without the familiar front three.

For Reddy, the lack of sustained intensity in Liverpool’s performances throughout the tour is “no surprise” considering the focus on training prior to each fixture:

The friendlies have been an extension of training according to the manager and considering the club have had two sessions on the eve of an encounter as well on the morning of the fixture, it is no surprise that the players have not shown their trademark high intensity.

Despite failing to win a game on US soil, Walsh was of the view that it should no pose as a problem as both players and their rhythm will return in good time:

No US win, but it should be no problem. The front three and Alisson Becker will return soon. Players will find their rhythm. Those gaps will start closing, those mistakes reduced.