Jordan Henderson spoke to assembled media on Liverpool’s pre-season tour in the United States and declared that the squad was good enough to fight for major honours once more in 2019/20.
A Champions League title and second place in the league proved the Reds’ pedigree last term, but with other clubs strengthening this summer the question was put to the captain over whether Liverpool needed to do the same.
Henderson was clear in his message: he backed the decisions of Jurgen Klopp, but firmly believes his side can still go on and achieve more greatness regardless.
The squad, built over the last three years with steady investment and smart moves in the market, is well-rounded and full of quality, though depth has at times been an issue.
Henderson feels that returning faces could thus prove to make a difference, with injuries affecting a number of seniors and young hopefuls last year.
“I feel confident in the squad we’ve got, and with the players who have come back from long injuries,” he told a press conference at Notre Dame, namechecking Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Rhian Brewster and Adam Lallana in particular.
“Players like that have a big contribution [to make] this season if they stay fit and everyone else as well.
“We have a very good squad capable of competing in all competitions.
“Of course we’d welcome new signings, but if not, we have a fantastic squad of players who are hungry, want more success and want to improve. [We have] that winning mentality.”
As his team-mates have previously, Henderson cited the euphoric Champions League parade and the victory in Madrid as examples to repeat.
One taste of success isn’t enough for the very best, and in fairness Liverpool have put together a squad of extremely driven players.
“We’ve shown we can win major trophies, we want to keep making history and we’re confident we can do that. It’s very difficult, with great teams around Europe [trying to do the same] but if we keep working, we’ve shown the last two seasons that we keep improving and we want to continue that path.
“We’ll never forget [the parade and Champions League win] and we’ll use it in the right way but we need to stay hungry show desire. And I’m sure we will.”
Henderson was also asked about team-mate Lallana, who after regaining fitness is being tried out in a new role this pre-season. In fact, it’s the inverse of the positional switch made by the No. 14 himself last term: from deepest midfielder to a more adventurous, forward-running man in the middle.
Lallana has played both friendlies thus far as the No. 6 for the Reds and Henderson is confident he can add a new dimension to the team’s play from that area of the pitch at times.
“The way he receives the ball and opens play, he can give us something different. He’s enjoying it.
“Fabinho does that role fantastically well but Adam will have his own style and I’m excited to see [what he brings].”
As for his own role in the team, Henderson remains open to all eventualities.
“I enjoyed playing higher up to create chances and get a couple myself. I just want to contribute when I can so I’ll do what the manager tells me to!”
The skipper will likely see his first action of the summer against Borussia Dortmund after returning to training last weekend.
Liverpool players signed autographs and posed for photographs with local children in South Bend, Indiana, on Thursday afternoon.
Jürgen Klopp's side kick off their pre-season tour of the USA with a friendly against Borussia Dortmund at Notre Dame Stadium on Friday.
And the squad took time out of their 2019-20 preparations to entertain some young Reds.
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson says the European champions are determined to "keep making history" by winning more major trophies.
The Reds are in the United States for a pre-season tour which sees them face Borussia Dortmund on Friday.
And Henderson says securing the European Cup trophy for the sixth time in the club's history has made the players desperate for more silverware.
"It's given us a taste of success and we want more of that." he said.
"We have shown that we can win a major trophy and we want to keep making history for this club and this team. We are very confident we can do that."
It is less than two months since Henderson lifted the Champions League trophy but with the Community Shield against Manchester City kicking off their season on 4 August Henderson knows that there is much work to do to get up to speed.
Liverpool's first-choice front three of Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are all absent from the US trip after rigorous international summers - with Mane set to play in the African Nations Cup final on Friday for Senegal.
"We have shown in the last few years that we are always getting better. We just want to continue on that path," Henderson added.
"The experiences of the Champions League and the Premier League last year can help us this season.
"Football changes quickly, you can only focus on what's in front of you. We will never forget what happened in Madrid [when Liverpool lost the 2018 Champions league final against Real Madrid] but we can use that in the right way. We want to achieve more as a team and be as successful as we can be.
"We are capable of competing on all fronts in every competition we are in. The manager may want to bring players in but, if not, we have a fantastic squad of players who are hungry and can keep us on track.
"We have to keep learning from the manager and I'm sure if we do that there will be more success stories to tell in the future."
England midfielders Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Adam Lallana should both feature against Dortmund after missing large parts of last season through injury, with Lallana being used in a deeper role similar to that played by Jorginho at Chelsea last season so far in pre-season.'Manchester City are the big favourites again'
Klopp, who called the Dortmund game at Notre Dame Stadium in Indiana Liverpool's "first proper test of pre-season", says that he is not worried about trying to match last season's remarkable points total in the Premier League.
Liverpool lost just once on their way to 97 points but were pipped by Manchester City.
"It makes no sense to compare seasons," he said.
"If we lose two games this year instead of one - but win the other 36, we will have more points. You just have to be there at the end of the season and then the best team wins.
"It would be great if we can be around Manchester City again. It is already clear that they are the big favourites again, no problem with that.
"They wouldn't have 98 points if we hadn't been around, we wouldn't have got 97 if they weren't around."
Klopp says he does not yet know when Mane will return to the club after his Afcon exploits, but will have to manage the return of his front three through the first few weeks of the season.
"I don't want to look like a moaner but Sadio Mane's season finishes tomorrow night," he said.
"That is difficult, 13 months long. We have to prepare him for the season, hopefully we can get through this period without any injuries, that would be really cool."
Jürgen Klopp has asserted Liverpool are ‘completely focused’ on themselves as they look ahead to 2019-20 – and not the possibilities of how other teams will perform in the new Premier League season.
The Reds suffered just one defeat during the entire top-flight campaign last term – picking up 97 points in the process – but were ultimately pipped to a first crown since 1990 by Manchester City by the finest of margins.
Pep Guardiola’s side’s haul of 98 compared to Liverpool’s 97 was enough to see them retain the trophy – and Klopp knows they will once again prove a powerful force this time around.
Nevertheless, the manager insists the Reds’ only attentions are on how they can compete at the division’s summit again and not how the clubs likely to also be challenging are shaping up as pre-season preparations continue in the United States.
Klopp told a pre-Borussia Dortmund press conference in Notre Dame: “[I am] completely focused on Liverpool. Completely.
“It would be great if we could be around Man City again because that’s the only possibility to have to pass them because it is already clear they are the big favourite again. No problem with that. They have a very good situation, which they showed last year especially after having 100 points in the season before – the greed they showed, the determination they showed, it was just impressive.
“I don’t think they would have had 98 points if we wouldn’t have been around – and we would not have had 97 points if Man City wouldn’t have been around. We chased each other through the season, put each other under pressure and that led to that.
“Tottenham were around, exactly on the same level until March probably – I am not 100 per cent sure when they had a few difficult results, for them. That was the moment the gap became bigger, but that was the only moment.
“All the teams will start again: there is no duel with City and Liverpool and all the rest are watching us. That’s not how the Premier League is, all of these games are so difficult to play and we know we were lucky in the Tottenham game at home when they scored an own goal and in one or two more situations for sure. We were [also] unlucky in one or two games when we drew, but it is like it is.
“What we did last year, we were really rock solid in all; we were difficult to play, difficult to outplay, in general we always created chances, we were strong in a lot of departments, didn’t get nervous in difficult situations in a game, could increase pressure in different situations on the other teams.
“That was all there, but unfortunately football – especially a football team – is not like riding a bike and you lose it in a specific period. You don’t lose everything, but the teamwork, how one thing leads to another, how one thing fits to the other, that’s not there from the first day again. But it’s still somewhere and we only have to make sure we all remember it again, so our improvement and our development is our main target.
“If we can get better than last year that would be great and that’s what we’re looking for, not at other teams. We play them [all] twice – OK, with the Champions League and stuff like that maybe four or five times a season – but in the Premier League it is just the two games and they are always difficult and will stay difficult. They have to stay difficult for City as well – and for the others.
“You see what Man United are doing in the transfer market, or probably will do; Arsenal want to strengthen; Chelsea have their situation but bring all the young boys, all the players on loan, back. If a team is not really influenced by a transfer ban then it is Man City because they have the players and they will be strong as well. Everton, probably nobody wants to hear that here, but they – year in, year out – really strengthen the squad. [They’ve made] good signings again [and] they had a good team already last year.
“There are a lot of jobs to do and that’s what we have to be concerned about – not how we can beat City. That’s not the only thing we have to do because there are a lot of other things.”
Despite Liverpool’s achievements last season, which, of course, included the Champions League final triumph at its conclusion, Klopp feels there is room for improvement within his squad.
Indeed, the boss is convinced 2018-19’s experiences will stand the players in good stead for the challenges ahead.
He continued: “The first thing we have to learn, and maybe you have to learn, is it makes no sense to compare seasons. If you lose two games and win all the others then we have more points than last year, for example.
“In the moment when we lose a game and then – probably it will happen like this, you can imagine – everyone starts [with] questions asked after any defeat. We know we don’t have to compare the season – to win the league, or to achieve whatever, you have to have to be the best team at the end. You have to go through all the difficult moments as a group, as a unit, and that’s what we did so far and what we have to do again.
“We finished last season with a massive high, clearly. It was brilliant, absolutely brilliant, and will stay with us forever, which is brilliant as well, but apart from that it is a new season. We achieved what we achieved last year by working extremely hard on all the things we had to work on – and that’s what we have to do again.
“The boys are a year older, the boys are a year further in their careers, they are more experienced in different situations. That’s what we have to try to use. Then, let’s play football again against a lot of very, very strong teams. That’s our main problem, actually: the others don’t sleep and develop as well, so we have to be ready.”
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