The Anfield Chronicles: Pep Lijnders’ Journey with Liverpool
Lijnders and Liverpool: A Symbiotic Connection
The role of an assistant head coach is vital, and when it comes to Liverpool, Pep Lijnders is the name that often resounds in the hallowed halls of Anfield. With two impactful spells at Liverpool, Lijnders’ journey is an interesting tapestry of dedication, ambition, and learning.
Lijnders’ association with Liverpool began in 2014, initially under the guidance of Brendan Rodgers. However, with Jurgen Klopp’s arrival in October 2015, the dynamics changed. Lijnders’ tenure up until 2017 was marked by a unique fusion of Rodgers’ tactics and Klopp’s innovative strategies.
But in 2017, a call from the Dutch side, NEC, offered him a managerial position. Following a challenging season that didn’t see the team gain promotion to the Eredivisie, Lijnders found himself contemplating his next move.
Inside Lijnders’ Mind: The Training Ground Revelations
Delving deep into his motivations during his recent conversation on the Training Ground Guru podcast, Lijnders elaborated on his initial decision to leave Anfield.
“With Jurgen, you don’t know how it’s going to be. I thought, ‘Okay, I really need to try to learn’. Of course I knew the Dortmund team and how they play. Then I saw training and then I saw the meeting and the way he spoke and I thought, ‘Ah, really really good’. How he explains is better than how I do it and every day like this, a paper, a complete A4 full with words, what he said, what he did, training. I still have these books at home,” Lijnders mused.
His time under Brendan Rodgers was filled with responsibility, where he was often the one leading the sessions. With Klopp, however, the role evolved. “It was a nice period but unstable, because under Brendan I would be the coach, I would deliver all the sessions. With Jurgen, with time he asked more and more and I gave more sessions, but I was not planning the training, I was just delivering the ideas or the sessions.”
It was this yearning for a larger role in planning and strategising that eventually led to his exit, as he admitted, “I needed more, which is why, in the end, I left.”
A Call from Klopp: The Anfield Return
Life has a way of coming full circle, and for Lijnders, it did just that. After his experience at NEC, an unexpected call from Klopp turned the tides. Lijnders revealed Klopp’s words, stating:
“Three months later I was at NEC Nijmegen, beginning of April he called, ‘Pep, I will probably be searching for a number two. I feel we can conquer the world together – what do you think?'”
And thus, began Lijnders’ second spell at Liverpool, proving that sometimes, home truly is where the heart is.