LIVERPOOL, England, Aug 9 (Reuters) - Liverpool may not have been away for long but Juergen Klopp’s side returned to Premier League action on Friday with a hunger and desire that suggested they have spent the close-season break chomping at the bit to get back on the field.
The European champions put three goals past promoted Norwich City in the opening half hour at Anfield on their way to a 4-1 victory and any concerns Liverpool fans may have had about the lack of transfer activity surely had vanished by the break.
The weeks of speculation and debate that surround the transfer window can have a distorting effect when evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of Premier League teams.
Why, asked some pundits, had Liverpool not spent some money to add some fresh alternatives to their attacking trio of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane?
Klopp could not care less about such criticism and his decision to start Divock Origi ahead of Mane showed he has real belief in the Belgian to be a significant factor this campaign.
“We made the decisions we made (in the transfer market) for the reasons we had. I think Div (Origi) did exceptionally well tonight,” said the German.
Origi’s two goals against Barcelona in the Champions League semi-final, second leg win and his strike in the final victory over Tottenham Hotspur, made him a folk hero on Merseyside and Klopp clearly believes he deserves his chance.
“He made two or three decisions that were not too good and lost the ball here and there, but until then he was really brilliant. He was a proper threat all the time,” said Klopp.
“That’s all good,” he added of the 24-year-old striker, who headed in Liverpool’s third goal after his cross led to Grant Hanley’s own goal for the seventh minute opener.
“We are early in the season and some mistakes happen that will not happen during the season. But it’s all good.
“If somebody would have told me before the game we would win 4-1, I would have taken it easily. If somebody would have told me we’d play the first 60 minutes like we played tonight, I’d say, ‘OK, I take it.’
As for questions over options, it was enough to take a look at the Liverpool bench — Joel Matip, Naby Keita and Xherdan Shaqiri were unused along with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, back after his lengthy injury absence.
Midfielder James Milner and Mane, the league’s joint top scorer last season on 22 goals along with Salah and Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, made second half appearances.
With Wednesday’s UEFA Super Cup match against Chelsea in Istanbul followed by a trip to Southampton in the league on Saturday, Klopp already knows he has to rotate his players.
“The players had a break (over the summer). For the body it was long enough, nobody asked for longer, so they didn’t lose a lot of their physical standards,” said Klopp.
“We have to be a bit smart for the next two games, we have to make a few decisions and try to win both of those games, which will be difficult.” (Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Ken Ferris)