Richard Buxton: Community Shield shows Reds can't afford slow start
Community Shield highlights need to hit the ground running as season could again be decided by fine margin
City win 5-4 on penalties
Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp pledged that he and Pep Guardiola would "kick each other's butts again" over the next nine months.
|(Joel Matip 77)||(Raheem Sterling 12)
City win 5-4 on penalties
But the German's players needed a late rally to kickstart their Community Shield contest with Manchester City yesterday. The Citizens won 5-4 on penalties after a 1-1 draw, with Georginio Wijnaldum's miss from the spot proving costly.
Yet, the Reds could have sealed the match after Joel Matip's 77th-minute equaliser sparked a late onslaught during which Mohamed Salah forced a goal-line clearance from Kyle Walker.
But, before that, Wembley had felt like a mere extension of the English Premier League champions' procession rather than a curtain-raiser; a far cry from the engrossing title race for the ages that played out between the sides and boiled down to a single point.
The Reds' ambivalence to renewed acquaintances with Guardiola's charges mirrored Klopp's viewpoint; that it is merely a glorified pre-season friendly in which little, if anything, significant can be deduced about his own team for the campaign which lies ahead.
Their earlier defensive frailties and a lack of attacking cohesion suggested their manager still has plenty of work to do before welcoming Norwich City to Anfield on Saturday morning (Singapore time).
City carved open Liverpool's backline at will in the opening 45 minutes, with Raheem Sterling and Kevin de Bruyne comfortably rinsing opposite numbers Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson.
Back in his hometown and once more on the score-sheet, Sterling's lifelong ambition of becoming the "King of Wembley" may soon be fulfilled.
Now with a direct hand in all seven goals of his last four games for club and country at England's national stadium, he remains imperious.
Only the offside flag as well his own self-confidence stood in the way of the 24-year-old extending the tally during regular intervals in the second half.
The near-effortless intensity from Guardiola's side vindicated their summer of quiet evolution; making tweaks to upgrade an already well-heeled machine from its most recent incarnation.
Breaking up winning formulae is a necessary evil for habitually winning teams.
Under the stewardship of Bob Paisley, Liverpool did it better than most; continually rebuilding from a position of strength rather than resting on their laurels and being blinded by past sentiment.
The opposite has been true for his modern day successor, whose side should have produced something more tangible from an overdue attacking onslaught at Claudio Bravo's goal.
There is, however, a genuine degree of mitigation behind Klopp's reluctance to restock.
He will be mindful of the mistakes that Liverpool managers made in the summers after they had also steered the club to a second-place finish.
So far, he has resisted temptation to draft in players for the sake of it or safeguarding his own long-term future with a bumper contract.
One Champions League winner has already been emphatically burned by falling into those traps in Rafael Benitez, about a decade ago. Klopp does not want to add to that statistic.
PLUCK AND CAMARADERIE
But banking on pluck and camaraderie to carry Anfield's 30-year wait for the EPL title over the line single-handed is ambitious and even slightly naive on his part.
Momentum will slow down and injuries will invariably bite as the season reaches its midway point, as it did last season.
City currently look comfortable enough to make it three EPL titles on the spin.
Liverpool will have to hope that the second-season syndrome does not again come home to roost.
LIVERPOOL: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold (Matip 67), Gomez, van Dijk, Robertson, Fabinho (Keita 67), Henderson
(Lallana 79), Wijnaldum, Origi (Oxlade-Chamberlain 79), Salah, Firmino (Shaqiri 79)
MAN CITY: Bravo, Walker, Stones, Otamendi, Zinchenko, Rodri, D. Silva (Guendogan 61), de Bruyne (Foden 89), Sane (Jesus 13), B. Silva, Sterling
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