In terms of non-footballing matters overall attendances have been impressive and the interaction with a completely different area of the fan base has – on the face of it – been of benefit to the club and their American fans.
Of course, measuring the level of this benefit is difficult for the typical fan and the club’s official website isn’t exactly the most impartial source to form a judgement, but the likes of this trip will hopefully bear fruit in the forthcoming years. Cascading the club brand worldwide may be crucial in what is likely to be an oncoming new era of Financial Fair Play, where the generation of revenue from merchandise sales are meant to play a big part.
The positives from footballing matters have again been accentuated by Brendan Rodgers in the aftermath of Liverpool’s final tour fixture against Premier League rivals Spurs, which ended in an uninspiring goalless draw in Baltimore. He appeared pleased with what he sees as the team’s adaptation to his footballing philosophy and tactical shape. However, after three games without a win, he will undoubtedly be itching to secure a maiden victory in Liverpool’s first competitive fixture of the campaign on Thursday.
Liverpool’s overall performance against Spurs followed a similar pattern to their two preceding tour games – some neat and tidy football in midfield and limited penetration in the final third. The difference yesterday was that Liverpool kept their first clean sheet of pre-season, which is undoubtedly an important tick in the box.
Unfortunately, Charlie Adam’s challenge on Gareth Bale has grabbed all the headlines in today’s newspapers, but a limited amount of chances and goalmouth action did little to save the Scotsman from an uncomfortable amount of column inches. If he hadn’t already clattered Bale twice in previous games then maybe he would have been spared, but his bizarre obsession with Spurs’ star man continues unabated. It’s hard to assess whether his history with Bale is a genuine beef or a strange coincidence. If the latter is true then it may be caused by Bale’s pace – something Adam would admit is not one of his own attributes, who does tend to get caught behind play and commit clumsy fouls.
Ironically, Adam nearly provided Bale with a gift straight from kick off when he gave the ball away to the flying winger in a very dangerous position. His blushes were spared by Martin Skrtel who blocked the resulting shot from just outside the area.
Liverpool’s first attempt came from Jonjo Shelvey on 12 minutes who attempted to bend the ball around Brad Friedel from roughly 25 yards, but he failed to generate the necessary power allowing an easy save. Spurs responded quickly with a shot from youngster Harry Kane which flashed wide of Jones’ goal. An effervescent Adam Morgan then snatched at a shot on 22 minutes after the ball ricocheted to him just inside the area.
By far the best chance of the match fell to Spurs three minutes before half time. Bale found space on the left wing and curled in a teasing right footed cross over Liverpool’s rearguard – one of those crosses that nobody wants to deal with – which bounced past a diving Brad Jones and fell straight to Aaron Lennon three yards out. He was probably surprised to be clean through on goal and side footed his shot against the post.
After a few substitutions, Liverpool began the second half brightly and quickly fashioned half chances for Joe Cole and Nathan Eccleston, the first after bright play from Raheem Sterling leading to a mishit from Cole, and the second after Eccleston skilfully dragged the ball past Younes Kaboul, who could then only aim a tame shot straight at Friedel. On 53 minutes, Martin Skrtel then embarked on a marauding run from a deep position. He found himself just outside the area and managed to aim a curled shot at Friedel who had to stretch in order to make a safe catch.
The loudest cheer of the game came on the hour mark after the introduction of Steven Gerrard and new signing Fabio Borini. Despite an impressive cameo from the captain in particular, neither player could prevent a fairly quiet close to the game. Borini didn’t see much of the play – through no fault of his own it must be said – but did manage to fire a volley wide on 73 minutes. First impressions are that he looks to be an industrious presser of the ball, his level of quality meanwhile will come to bear in the coming months.
Overall it was a dour game where neither side were helped by 35 degree heat and a poor pitch, which isn’t very conducive to good football from two clubs that aren’t used to those conditions and are often spoilt by bowling-green-style playing surfaces. It’s hard at the best of times to pinpoint any outstanding positives in pre-season games, in this match it was probably the accumulation of further minutes for the club’s younger players and it was also pleasing to see Liverpool compete comfortably with a team who finished fourth last season.