Markovic key to new Liverpool tactics as Remy move fails
Without Luis Suarez, Brendan Rodgers wants to base his approach on lightning-fast counterattacks
As the Premier League big guns tour the world as part of their pre-season preparations, the football writers trail behind them hoping, as Eric Cantona would doubtless suggest, for sardines to be thrown in their direction.
Liverpool's latest outing, a 1-0 win over Greek side Olympiakos in Chicago, offered some insights into life after Luis Suarez for the Anfield outfit as Brendan Rodgers fielded a heavyweight side featuring the likes of Steven Gerrard, Jordan Henderson, Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge.
The game may have been played at "half pace" says The Times but an impressive turn from Lazar Markovic hinted that Liverpool's "speed on the counter-attack has actually increased following Suarez’s departure".
And in Markovic, Sterling and Sturridge, Liverpool possess "a front three with the kind of marauding pace that Rodgers craves and opponents detest", writes Tony Barrett. "At times when the trio broke forward it was as if someone had fired a starting pistol or sounded a trumpet to signal a charge, although rapidity was not always followed by accuracy."
Pre-season games are an advert for shirts and boots rather than the game, says Chris Bascombe of the Daily Telegraph and this one "was so pedestrian all that was missing was the 'Don't Walk' signs from the nearby sidewalks".
However, he too was impressed by Markovic. "The Serbian is super quick and will ensure Liverpool's counter-attacks are even more brisk," he says, but adds: "In truth, in keeping with the rest of the tour, the most relevant issues were off the pitch."
Loic Remy's failed medical scuppered his move to Anfield at the 11th hour and could leave Rodgers sweating on strikers unless he can find an alternative before the start of the season.
"Liverpool have declined to comment on the specific reason they have withdrawn from the move but it is understood that the 27-year-old, who has a historical heart condition, is devastated his dream move to Anfield has fallen through," says the Daily Mail.
Rodgers will also be without Adam Lallana for the start of the season after the former Southampton man was ruled out for up to six weeks after damaging his lateral collateral knee ligaments in training.
However, the arrival of Croatian Dejan Lovren gives Liverpool a more solid feel at the back.