Edinburgh: Virgil van Dijk has joined manager Jurgen Klopp in calling for a calm approach amid a stuttering pre-season for Liverpool.
The Champions League winners face Premier League champions Manchester City in Sunday’s FA Community Shield at Wembley under greater scrutiny after a series of disappointing results and performances in preparation for the new campaign.
A 3-0 defeat by Napoli on Sunday was their third loss in four games and they have kept just one clean sheet in six matches, at Tranmere Rovers.
Van Dijk and Klopp also exchanged words when Lorenzo Insigne raced through unchallenged to open the scoring for Napoli at Murrayfield.
The Holland centre-back said: “It was just things ... between me and him. It’s not necessary (to reveal it).
“Sometimes you have to tell someone the truth. It (the performance) was quite sloppy at times, but there’s no concerns.
“At times, we showed promising football and there’s a reason why we are European champions. We have to stay calm.”
Van Dijk knows Liverpool can dispel doubts about their form if they beat City — and believes it is the perfect game in which to raise standards. “We have to be at our top level. If we play like that, we won’t win the Community Shield,” he said. “Our season starts properly next Sunday, so our focus will be on that. We will be ready for City.”
Klopp has demanded better from his side, particularly a defence much lauded after conceding just 22 league goals last season.
“We didn’t defend counter-attacks well against Napoli, we lost the ball in the wrong moments and didn’t protect it. If that happens against City, you don’t have a chance,” he said.
“We have to defend in a good way because if you don’t defend well against City we can get a proper knock. But we know each other long enough now to know it will be different on Sunday.”
With only Sadio Mane missing from Liverpool’s training camp in Evian this week and Mohammad Salah, Roberto Firmino and Alisson returning, Klopp will feel more reassured. But he said the result against City would have no bearing on the season ahead.
“If I have to say this would be the statement for the season, I would be mad,” he added. “If we win it, good. Will it have an influence on the season? I don’t think so. We have to prove ourselves during the season, not in one game.”