You could say that it is about to begin, but really it has just continued. Not the seemingly never-ending football season, which is set to ‘restart’ with Sunday’s Community Shield at Wembley, but rather the rivalry between its participants that has developed from one that was purely sporting to something with a lot more spike.
Pre-season preparations have already seen Manchester City staff privately restate complaints about the more favourable media coverage they believe Liverpool receive. Pre-season press conferences have meanwhile seen Jurgen Klopp publicly reference the champions, or rather Liverpool’s effect on them.
“I don’t think they would have got 98 points if we hadn’t been around,” the German argued.
That is someway debatable, since City got 100 points the previous season when Liverpool were nowhere close to them, and it feels far more true that the champions brought out much more in the challengers. Guardiola argued this himself in April, while someway reinforcing Klopp's own point.
“This standard was last season, we helped Liverpool to achieve it and Liverpool helped us to keep going, so thanks to Liverpool we are competing.”
That, however, reflects something that is much less debatable. The City-Liverpool rivalry has reached that stage of intensity where they push each other further and thereby bring out the best in each other. At least on the pitch.