One of the world’s most historic football clubs has been training at the United States’ eldest university. On Harvard’s Ohiri Field, Brendan Rodgers has put a young squad through a grueling 48 hours in Boston. Using an American football-esque two-a-days routine, the Reds have practiced in temperatures at upwards of 97 degrees Fahrenheit, with humidity making the guests feel near 105 degree heat.
With England internationals Steven Gerrard, Andy Carroll, Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing rumored to arrive at camp come next Monday, the squad’s first preseason fixture against Toronto is likely to feature promising talents Jonjo Shelvey and Raheem Sterling. Both footballers have stood out amongst their peers in the various small-sided matches that have occurred in training.
The 34 man squad has made the best of the weather, roaring at every flashy skill or goal, despite being utterly exhausted at the end of each session. In fact, countless players have taken the Andre Villas-Boas crouch position before inching to the trainers for water and instructions.
Wednesday morning’s practice saw the team go through their warm-ups within inches of supporters, divided only by a chain-link fence from men who have featured in not only the Premier League, but also World Cup matches. Rodgers then split his team in two for coinciding scrimmages, before one of the groups went at it in a penalty kick shootout.
Joe Cole and Dani Pacheco have returned from their respective loan spells at Lille and Rayo Vallecano.
The Spanish prodigy welcomes the style of play the Northern Irish gaffer brings to Merseyside saying, “I love his style. I’m from Spain. We all work the same way he works and hopefully we are trying to do our best to try to impress him. We love the way he works.”
“It’s quite hard to be honest,” chuckled Pacheco, when speaking of the warm reception the team has received from the city, “But now we’re getting adjusted and tomorrow and a few days after, we’ll be getting better and better.”
After being on loan to Norwich, Atletico Madrid, and Rayo, the striker said, “I’m back from Spain and I’m glad to be back with Liverpool. There’s not many clubs better than Liverpool, so hopefully I can make it and stay here.”
A proud member of Spain’s dominant U-21s, Pacheco says he has been able to shift into higher gears since last year‘s trip to Asia.
“Especially, I think the speed. I was fighting for relegated positions [with Rayo]. Very different than obviously it is here at Liverpool, but I think the speed I got last season will make me stronger for this season.”
Former Blackpool man Charlie Adam has done well in Boston, and looks set to return to first team football.
“You just want to show that you’re fit and available for selection,” said the 26 year old. “When you come on tour it’s about fitness and getting on the with the lads and getting good spirit and we’ve got that.”
The Scotland international is putting particular focus on his physique after missing the final three months of the last campaign.
When asked if he would be more comfortable with Rodgers’ 4-3-3 than Kenny’s 4-4-2 formation, Adams replied, “Whatever the situation is, whatever the manager is going to play, it’s his decision, but for us it’s important that we get the right structure, the right team, and the right group of players ready for the start of the season.”
“We’re going to work hard from now until the second of August. Whoever we draw against [in the Europa League] is going to be a tough match. Everything has been about gearing up to that game and getting ready for the start of the Premier League.”
Rumors that Adam may not be right for the tiki-taka system, due to his love for direct play, is strongly denied by the player who wears number 26.
“We played well last year. Unfortunately, the results weren’t what we wanted and that’s the way it is and that’s what happens in football.”
In addition, the center midfielder is looking forward to the opposition his side will take on in the States.
“Roma is obviously a top club in Italy with top international players, so it’s going to be a tough match. Tottenham, we obviously know all about, because we play against them in the Premier League.”
“The manager has already brought one player in, in [Fabio] Borini, which is one we look forward to seeing, and hopefully he can come in and adapt to the way we want to play,” said Adam.
Speaking of physical fitness, the man whose corner kicks are worth 10 million pounds, according to Sir Alex Ferguson, said, “I think the Championship is different from the Premier League. You play a lot more games, but the Premier League is the pinnacle of English football. It doesn’t matter if you’re fit in the Championship or fit in the Premier League, because it’s so intense.”
Entering his second season at Anfield, Adam praised the English top flight.
“It’s the best league in the world and it’s got the best players in the world,” boasted Adam, “It’s a tough league and I’m happy where I am at the moment.
“The quality you play against every week is at the top level and it’s tough, but that’s where you want to play as a footballer, because it’s the top league in the world.”
Photo credit: Mark Fairchild.