IT’S sometimes all a bit Blurred Lines at The Anfield Wrap. We very much see ourselves as ‘just a group of lads who go to the game’, but a number of us are full time on this thing now, so are we a media organisation now, or not?
How much access to the club do people want us to have, how close do we indeed want to get? Once you’ve looked behind the curtain, can it ruin the fun? Obviously when we can get an interview with Jurgen Klopp you take it, but we’re also aware it can lead to accusations of favouritism in the future if or when things go wrong. We were still often accused of being too close to Brendan Rodgers over two years after interviewing him. Like we were too scared to criticise him in case he wouldn’t invite us round for tea.
Its a balance, and one we discuss every now and again in the office. Ultimately we will take your guidance on it. But in America we decided it would be fun, as we were offered it, to strap on the media accreditation and give it a go. Mainly so we didn’t have to pay in….
After the game they have these things called mixed zones where players are forced to walk through a narrow gauntlet of people asking questions before they get to the sanctimony of their team bus. Some strap on their headphones and pretend it isn’t happening. Others smile politely and claim to be in a rush. A few will stop if you ask nicely and have a bit of a chat.
Me and Andy managed to grab Jordan Henderson, James Milner, Kevin Stewart, Ragnar Klavan and Sheyi Ojo. For TAW Player subscribers you can listen to the audio here. However, because the sound quality wasn’t the best, and because we’re nice, we have typed out what they said.
The Anfield Wrap: Jordan, good to get some more minutes?
Jordan Henderson: Yeah, good to get on the pitch and play. I think I played about 75 minutes so I’m pleased with that, and also pleased with the performance of the team.
TAW: Are you feeling better in your body? We spoke to Steven Gerrard the other day, I don’t know if you have seen the quotes, but he was saying this could be a big season for you and that he knows what it is like to have a year suffering with injuries.
JH: Yeah I said in an interview I did mid-week that this is probably the best I have felt in a long time. Coming into a pre-season, obviously it was a difficult season last year, very frustrating, but I will try and use what I went through last season the best I can this season. I’ll be stronger for it and hopefully can have a good season and help the team do well.
TAW: Just from watching in the stand, you seem to be moving a lot freer. Playing with a lot more intensity.
JH: Yeah I think with me, a lot of my game is physicality, so maybe at times last season, even when I came back, I was still struggling a little bit, and I was a little bit inhibited with my movement and you could see that I think, because it is such a big thing in my game. Whereas now I feel a little bit freer, I feel fit, and hopefully I can just keep improving over pre-season and throughout the season do well.
TAW: Finally, what’s the aim for the season, do you have any personal targets?
JH: I think it’s to do the best I can for the team, make sure I’m giving everything and playing well and try and help the team win every week. Hopefully maybe win a trophy or finish up as high as we can.
TAW: So left back tonight, how did you enjoy that?
James Milner: Yeah it was alright. Good performance from the boys, I think. Dominated most of the game, looked pretty sharp. Obviously it’s still pre-season, results don’t mean too much, but it was nice to get a win and a clean sheet. Like I say I thought it was a good performance.
TAW: A couple of goals for the Californian crowd as well, which is great for them to see. Are you surprised still by the passion that they show out here? The fans are so dedicated and obviously love the football club, all the way out here.
JM: Not really, I saw it for the first time last year as well when I had just joined the club. The global following that the club has and the fan base, it’s all over the world, and that shows what a big club it is. It is great to come all the way to the other side of America and be so far away from home, but it just shows that these guys are always supporting us, even when you don’t see them, they are there.
TAW: Looking sharper and sharper, the Liverpool players, which brings hope for next season. I hope we can do something really strong.
JM: Yeah hopefully, that’s obviously the plan. It’s early days in pre-season, some of the boys have just come back. We’ve got the full contingent back now, obviously Emre (Can) hasn’t been involved yet and a few of the other boys are easing in with half hours, and half games, things like that. But the games are ticking down now until the end of pre-season, and like you say the closer we get to that first game we need to be on top form.
TAW: And just before you run, do you like the (third) kit?
JM: I do like the kit, yeah!
TAW: Jurgen says you all like it, he says you look good in it!
JM: Yeah I like it. I prefer the brighter looking kits.
TAW: You can see your mates better!
JM: Yeah, out the corner of your eye. Yeah, I like it.
TAW: Good win for The Reds, (points to Connor Randall), he’s trying to nick your position, isn’t he?
Kevin Stewart: I dunno, is he?!
TAW: Stepping into central midfield.
KS: Oh, yeah yeah I’m gonna have a chat with him later.
TAW: Another bit of competition.
KS: Yeah, we’re all just happy to get some minutes whatever position. Wherever the manager throws us in we’ve got to do a job, really.
TAW: How’s your knee?
KS: Yeah it’s alright, just a knock, like a knee to knee clash, but it will be alright.
TAW: One of those ones that hurts initially.
KS: Yeah, then wears off a little bit.
TAW: Is this your first tour? I’m not sure if you were around last time.
KS: Yeah, first tour.
TAW: So are you enjoying the passion out here, they really love it, don’t they?
KS: Yeah, it’s amazing. I didn’t actually expect so many Americans to come and support us. I didn’t know there were that many fans out here.
TAW: They know all the songs…
KS: They know all the players, they know everything! I saw a sign which said “We’re not American we’re Scouse”!
TAW: And “Make USA Dream”, I like that one as well. So hopes for you this season, have you got any targets on how many games you’d like to play, or are you just seeing how it goes?
KS: Literally just seeing how it goes. Trying my best, just doing what I can do and see where it takes me, really.
TAW: You’ve started your Liverpool career really well, impressive performances, you’re looking composed on the ball, are you enjoying it?
Ragnar Klavan: Yes, to represent Liverpool, it’s amazing. It gives you wings!
TAW: Are you feeling positive from the crowd as well? They must be giving you energy.
RK: The whole experience, from the crowd, from the team mates, to the training staff.
TAW: Have you ever experienced from another club where they have had such a big following as far away as this?
RK: I’ve never played for such a big club, I always played for nice, family clubs. Of course Liverpool is worldwide, but it still has a feeling that it is a family club. Everybody is really down to earth, and everyone is working for the same thing.
TAW: Have you got any personal ambitions or targets for this season? I think when you signed a lot of people expected you to maybe be a back up centre half, but you’ve come in, you’ve started games and are playing very well. Have you got personal ambitions?
RK: Like I’ve said before, I’m a team player, and whatever is needed to be done. Of course at such a high level you have competition, but that is what brings us forward. It’s not only my position, every position has 2 or 3 guys fighting for the position. It’s cool, you know, as long as it’s healthy competition then it helps everybody, it helps the team.
TAW: You were straight to the team and seemingly came in straight away, have you managed to find a house yet in Liverpool?
RK: No, not yet! I just took three t-shirts and some trousers with me! So when we get back from America I’ll start.
TAW: Well if you need any help, anyone to show you around mate I’m here for you, alright?
TAW: Played very well tonight, I thought. Great burst of pace for the second goal, did you enjoy it out there?
Sheyi Ojo: Yeah it was great to play against a massive team like AC Milan. Obviously I just want to be out on the pitch as much as I can, so I’m grateful for the opportunity the manager has given me.
TAW: He seems to have a lot of faith in you at the moment, last season as well. Has he talked to you about what he expects from you and how much you could be involved next year?
SO: Briefly, but you know the main thing is just the team at the moment and obviously we are building for the new season and I’m just happy to be a part of it. Obviously I’ve just got to keep my head down and keep working hard and see what happens.
TAW: It’s been a busy summer for you hasn’t it, you’ve been away with England U19s as well. Has that been a little bit hectic for you, would you have liked a bit more of a rest, or being a young guy are you just happy to be playing?
SO: Nah, nah I’d 100% rather be here right now. Obviously I want to be a part of this team and anything I can do to be a part of this team, I’ll do it. I’ve just got to keep working hard in training and get my head down and see what happens.
TAW: Well you certainly played well tonight. Just a word for the fans out here, I’ve met loads of American fans and they are so passionate and knowledgeable, it must blow you away to come out here and hear ‘The California Kop’ behind the goal.
SO: The stadium is amazing, the atmosphere is crazy. All the fans were fantastic and we are grateful for the support they have given us and we try and repay them with good performances.
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