After a nearly ten-week absence from training at Melwood, the Reds returned to small group training and a few things caught our attention.
Liverpool returned to training for the first time since the coronavirus lockdown came into effect on Wednesday, 68 days after Melwood was closed in the wake of the Premier League’s suspension.
The Reds were all smiles as group training resumed, but the Melwood which welcomed them was far different from how they left it.
Temporary facilities, a one-way system and non-contact work in groups of five are now the norm as part of the Premier League’s phase one return as they gear up to finish the remaining 92 fixtures.
Fitness and technical work has been the focus with no contact allowed, but that has not stopped Liverpool, who are hoping to finish their impressive campaign in style, from relishing the return of a little normalcy.
Here are five things we noticed as the Reds returning to training this week.
The Reds’ hair…there was a lot of it
Let’s be honest, it’s what everyone noticed.
With hairdressers and barbers off-limits, the usually well-groomed hair of professional players has become unruly and, like the rest of the population, the thought of taking matters into their own hands has no doubt reared its head.
Considering anything other than a job done at home would break lockdown protocols, it’s reassuring to see the players had more pressing concerns in mind.
The boss is front and centre
“I woke up even earlier than usual, and then I realised it is my first day. It felt like the first day at school.”
Jurgen Klopp’s smile was shown in all it’s glory as the Reds made their long-awaited return to training and he was an ever-present figure as group after group made their way onto the training pitch – from a safe distance, of course.
The passing maestro with a backwards cap, no doubt for aerodynamics, was involved in a number of drills – and the boss was as cool as you like and it was heartwarming to see him in and amongst the action as best he could with the guidelines which are in place.
The boss has readily stated that both he and his coaches need to be creative throughout this period and if their Zoom sessions are anything to go by, Liverpool are well and truly in safe and capable hands.
Nothing has changed yet everything is different
The rules of social distancing have not been relaxed for football, meaning groups of five working at least two meters away from one another is non-negotiable as part of phase one.
Each player has a designated seat to change their shoes and for a place to keep their few possessions before taking to the field, where fitness and technical and combination work has been the main focus.
But despite the vast changes and restrictions, it was clear to see a myriad of emotions from relief to joy sweep across the players’ faces as the club captured images of their return throughout the week.
The groups have changed throughout the week, but notably, Xherdan Shaqiri has been an absent figure throughout the club’s updates.
Throughout the pandemic, safety has been the number one priority and bi-weekly tests, social distancing, a one-way system, disinfecting of equipment and separate bathroom and shower facilities have all been in place at Melwood this week.
Arguably, there is no safer place to be with continual access to tests and Jordan Henderson spoke highly of the measures in place which are keeping him, his teammates and other Premier League clubs safe.
“I feel very comfortable with all the measures that the Premier League and the club have put in place, along with my team-mates,” Henderson told Sky Sports.
“The testing, the temperature control, the social distancing and disinfecting everything has been at a really high level since we’ve been back. They’re doing everything they can to make it as safe as possible.
“We do feel comfortable and that’s why we’re here training. I feel very safe at the training ground, otherwise, I wouldn’t be here.”
Reds remain razor-sharp
Despite not having played since March 11, the Reds all appeared to have returned in a healthy condition as they refuse to let their foot off the gas.
The uncertainty of the situation is one which kept players in limbo for over nine weeks yet their touch and desire remains razor-sharp.
There is a provisional date of June 12 for a Premier League return, but the challenge remains on preparing players for a game which has no definitive date in place, leaving the boss to conclude that “we prepare for the future; when the future will start, we don’t know yet.”
But if this side has made anything clear over the last few years, it is that they leave no stone unturned in their pursuit of success and there is no reason the same does not apply now.
Moreover, it was a welcome sight to see youngster Paul Glatzel step up his recovery on Saturday after a lengthy spell on the sidelines with an ACL injury.