Inside Liverpool’s Training Ground Revolution: The “Melwood Arena”
In a bid to recreate the raw essence of “street” football, Liverpool’s training ground has unveiled a fresh innovation: the “Melwood Arena”. This state-of-the-art facility, situated at the AXA Training Centre, is designed to challenge players, pushing them to refine their skills in a unique environment.
A Nod to the Past
Liverpool’s rich history with Melwood is undeniable. For over seven decades, Melwood was the beating heart of Liverpool’s training operations. However, in 2020, the Reds made the monumental decision to shift their base to Kirkby. But even as they moved forward, they carried a piece of their legacy with them, evident in the naming of their new cage pitch.
The Vision Behind the Arena
Pepijn Lijnders, Liverpool’s assistant manager, recently shared some insights on the Training Ground Guru podcast. He spoke about the inspiration behind the “Melwood Arena”, revealing that the idea was to help players perfect their technique, especially in confined spaces.
Recalling a conversation with Jurgen Klopp, Lijnders said, “I presented the concept to him, highlighting the need for our team to enhance creativity in the final third and improve ball retention in tight areas.” The idea resonated, and despite the significant investment required, the project was greenlit.
Lijnders’ Journey and Influence
Lijnders’ association with Liverpool began in 2014 when he joined as the U18s coach. Within a year, he was promoted to the role of assistant manager. Although he briefly managed NEC Nijmegen in the Netherlands, he returned to Liverpool to work alongside Klopp.
Interestingly, Lijnders credits his time at Porto for the “Melwood Arena” concept. “The ethos at Porto was about nurturing players who despised losing. The continuous play, the creativity, the goals – it’s a sight to behold,” he remarked.
Aiming for Greater Heights
Liverpool’s offensive prowess is well-known, with the team netting 103 goals across all tournaments in the previous season. With the introduction of the “Melwood Arena”, the coaching staff aims to further amplify this strength, setting their sights on both domestic and European triumphs in the 2023/24 season.