The significance of pre-season to Jürgen Klopp is obvious from the way the Liverpool manager describes his plans for the summer.
“Apart from the games during the season, it’s the most important thing and it has a big influence on the games. You create a base for the whole year,” he tells Liverpoolfc.com.
The German will guide the squad through full preparations for a new campaign for only the second time since taking the reins of the club back in October 2015.
Last time around, the Reds’ schedule was centred on a training camp in California, with the work done in the United States laying the foundations for a fourth-place finish in the Premier League and a potential ticket to the Champions League.
Local friendlies, the Premier League Asia Trophy, the Audi Cup and more make up the itinerary on this occasion – and Klopp considers a productive period in the coming month to be paramount.
“This game is a players’ game and the players’ game means they need to know what the other guy is thinking,” he continues.
“You learn all of this in the pre-season. Of course you learn in the season – you fine-tune – but the better the basis you can create, the better the season will be, 100 per cent.
“I really love the sessions. There should be a 100 per cent difference between the first day of pre-season and the last day. We really want to see big, big progress.”
As well as overseeing a pre-season schedule with Liverpool for the first time in 2016, Klopp and his backroom staff had to factor in the international commitments of several players and therefore tailor the plans for individuals.
“We started with the games against lower-league teams, like Tranmere, Wigan and Fleetwood, and played all the young boys, which was good for them,” the boss reflects on the experience.
“How it is in pre-season, you have a few little injury issues, if you’re lucky, and you already have to be creative with line-ups.
“Then all the players came back and had a completely different fitness level because they had holidays in the last two weeks. It was a big tournament, obviously, in the last summer break.
“That’s the next challenge. But that’s the job to do and I enjoy it a lot.”
In addition to the value of the training done on the pitch during July, the bonding opportunities presented by trips abroad are appreciated by the manager.
The Reds will journey to Hong Kong, Germany and the Republic of Ireland this summer, with time to welcome new faces – such as Mohamed Salah – and strengthen the team spirit.
Klopp adds: “That’s why you go to training camps, usually, because they are then all together 24 hours [a day]; having breakfast, lunch and dinner together, spare time together and all that stuff.
“It’s very important. You can ask each new player who came in last year how he felt on his first day and the day after the camp or day after pre-season, that’s a very decisive period.
“The closer you can get in this period, the better it is.”