Former Liverpool defender Steve Nicol has given an insight into football in the United States and offered his opinion on the Reds’ prospects for the upcoming season.
The Scot, who was at Anfield for 14 years during the 1980s and 90s, has been based in America since moving to the Boston Bulldogs in 1999 as his playing career drew to a close.
After a brief spell in charge of the Bulldogs, Nicol became manager of the New England Revolution, where he would remain for nine years before parting company with the Major League Soccer side in 2011.
Given his experience of the country, Nicol is well placed to judge the merits of Liverpool’s tour of North America and Canada, which begins in earnest against Toronto FC on Saturday.
“It’s fantastic to see the boys,” Nicol told Liverpoolfc.com. “It brings back memories of being away in pre-season, I’m just glad I’m watching and not running about. When you’ve been involved with Liverpool, it never leaves you, it stays with you.
“I think it will be a good first game to get the legs turning over, the ball rolling around and hopefully a couple of goals.
“One of the good things about here, particularly Boston, is they love their sport — whether it’s football or basketball or you name it.
“They will leave you alone, the guys will be able to relax when they finish training, they won’t have to go hiding away, there’ll be no paparazzi chasing them around. They’ll be able to concentrate on what they are here for and do well.”
The 50-year-old was in attendance as the Reds trained in Boston this week, and he gave his support to Brendan Rodgers after watching the Northern Irishman at close quarters.
Nicol said, “Brendan has come in and all we’ll do now is give him 100 per cent support and hopefully he can take us up the table and get some silverware.
“Listening to what he has been saying, both on the TV and in the press, he is level-headed. Certainly you have to be when you’re at a big club — you need to make good decisions and say the right thing at the right time — he’s doing that.
“The job really starts on the first day of the season. This is an easy time for coaches, pre-season, if it doesn’t go well it doesn’t count and that’s fine. But once the big games start, I’m sure he’ll do well and I’ll certainly be 100 per cent behind him.
“I don’t think expectations change — you have to get in the UEFA Champions League. That’s where we all want to be and that’s where we want Liverpool to be.
“I’m sure Brendan, from the outset, is looking to get into the Champions League. But if he can turn the team into a great team to watch, get some results, and get close to that Champions League spot then it will be a good first season for him.”
Nicol, who made almost 500 appearances for the Reds during a trophy-laden stay on Merseyside, is currently without a club but still keen to continue coaching, ideally in America.
“I was fortunate to be at the Revolution for 10 years, obviously it’s sad when you leave. You always want to do well,” he explained. “We parted company because the team wasn’t doing great. That’s just the way it is. But I can’t wait to get my teeth back into it and winning some games.
“I think my family would prefer if we stayed in America but I’ve always said that you never know in football where you’re going to end up, which is how I ended up here in the first place.
“Something came up and we decided to take it, so you never know. But I think the family would rather stay here.”
Thumbnail photo courtesy of Flickr/nerevolution