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Pep Lijnders interview

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Pep Lijnders is in full flow.

Liverpool’s articulate assistant manager is eulogising about the tempo and intensity of the training session he has just overseen at Melwood. These are the words of a coach with complete job satisfaction.

“The passion and ambition of these players is from another planet,” Lijnders tells The Athletic.

“Their self-confidence, their self-criticism, that is what makes us consistent. These boys have the ability to make even a simple rondo competitive.

“People talk about going game to game — no, we commit session to session. Small things make big things happen. You have to focus on doing the small things right constantly.

“The passion and ambition I see, especially on the rainy and windy days here, that for me is what separates us from the others.”

Over the course of two hours in his company, Jurgen Klopp’s trusted lieutenant provides a fascinating insight into Liverpool’s stunning rise to the heights of European and world champions as well as runaway Premier League leaders.

The Dutchman’s own personal journey has been no less spectacular. He opens up for the first time about the circumstances surrounding his short spell away from Merseyside in 2018 when he went to manage NEC Nijmegen in his homeland.

Lijnders made player development his life’s work after seeing his own hopes of a professional career wrecked by a serious knee injury as a teenager.

From coaching in the youth ranks at PSV Eindhoven and Porto to being responsible for the entire training programme of a Liverpool team who are rewriting the Anfield record books with their dominance, it’s been some ride. Lijnders is still only 36 but his expertise is vast and he commands the respect of the dressing room. Owners Fenway Sports Group regard him as a pivotal cog in this winning machine.

Like Klopp, he recently signed a contract extension to keep him at Liverpool until 2024. The pair enjoy a close bond.

“There’s a super dynamic between us,” Lijnders says.

“It’s much more than just assistant and manager. What I mean by that is that I believe you need 100 per cent trust in this job because we have to make so many decisions on a daily basis. I love working for him. He sees who I am, and respects that. We know what to expect from each other.

“Jurgen is a true leader. He’s inspirational and motivational. He still surprises me every day with something he says. His brain works differently to a lot of other brains!

“He sees through situations and processes. There is a saying that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. And I think everyone who works with Jurgen has the feeling he really cares about you and your development. There is no ego, he purely searches for the right thing to do.”

Klopp’s famed man-management skills are undoubtedly one of his greatest assets. He has fostered a cherished unity and spirit in the squad which has propelled Liverpool towards glory. On a daily basis Lijnders witnesses the manager’s knack of finding the right words at the right times to get the best out of people.

“When Jurgen speaks to the players, he speaks from the heart and it goes directly into the hearts of the players,” he says.

“He has this remarkable capacity to touch people with the words he selects. That’s not easy, especially with this level of players. I find that intriguing, how it’s possible, the convincing way he has and that ability to touch people. You are dealing with a lot of egos in football but in our club it looks like there are no egos.

“Jurgen has created an environment where everyone has bought into it. He solves problems before they arise. He has this capacity of making sure that certain things won’t happen because he speaks about them. The level of respect the players have for him is huge.

“No written word, no spoken plea, can teach our team what they should be, nor all the books on the shelves, it’s what the coach is himself. Do you know what I mean? The character of the coach becomes the character of the team. You can see it throughout the club. That’s the power of Jurgen’s personality.”

Klopp’s fiercely competitive edge extends to the paddle tennis court that he had installed at Melwood. Most days before training Lijnders and Klopp lock horns. If training is at 3pm then they will arrange to meet for an 11am showdown. They can be noisy affairs.

“The staff hear the shouting — me probably more than him,” laughs Lijnders.

“I don’t know how he does it but Jurgen is actually quite reserved on the court. He can control his emotions. We put our character into these games and there’s a lot of passion.

“It’s usually a doubles sport but we play one v one. We like the fact we have to run more and fight more. He always says his players are mentality monsters, well he’s a mentality monster at paddle tennis! He never knows when he’s beaten. He’s won the past two games and that hurts a lot.

“There have been many times when he’s won without deserving it but I’ve got to admit he’s deserved the past two wins.”

Lijnders enjoys parity with fellow assistant boss Peter Krawietz, whose association with Klopp dates back to his role as chief scout at Mainz nearly two decades ago.

Whereas Lijnders’ time is largely spent planning and delivering training sessions, Krawietz’s area of expertise is video analysis. They complement each other well.

“It’s about constantly giving each other information and working together,” Lijnders says.

“It’s always easier with a good leader but still, life is a team sport. We support Jurgen in our best way possible. We know that we have to use each other’s strengths to be able to accomplish great things.

“Pete is one of the world’s best analysts and knows Jurgen’s way very well. He puts his mark in each game’s preparation. He supports me and Jurgen with information to include in our exercises and searches for weakness to exploit. The best football analysts simplify instead of complicate.

“There’s a culture of preparation and perfection here but with a lot of freedom. It’s a complex job being manager of such a big club. You need people around you and under you to focus on specific things. Jurgen tries to collect good ones, ones he can trust, he’s very strong on that.”

Klopp doesn’t tolerate yes-men. He wants his viewpoint to be challenged. How much input do Lijnders and Krawietz have on team selection?

“Jurgen makes the decisions,” he says firmly. “In the end he’s the one who decides but we try to support him with all the information we have and with all the opinions we have. Everyone is encouraged to say exactly what they think. You might not always agree with each other but it’s about always thinking together. Six eyes see more than two eyes. Three brains with a common idea can come up with different things and different insights compared to just one.

“The best meeting of the week is always the day before a game when Jurgen, Peter and I are in the office and we go through the video analysis and the plan for the game. Always in this meeting there’s a moment when we have full conviction in what we’re going to do. We speak about team selection and tactics. It’s a beautiful moment.”

Lijnders grew up in the small village of Broekhuizen in the Dutch province of Limburg. He was a promising centre midfielder on the books at lower league outfit SVEB.

“I was a leader, someone who tried to control and guide the team,” he says. “Would I have made it as a pro? Maybe yes, maybe no, but I always thought I would.”

That dream was dashed by a ruptured ACL at the age of 17 and he reassessed his goals. He went to study sports in the city of Sittard and channelled all his efforts into earning a coaching apprenticeship at PSV Eindhoven.

“There was only one available and I fought so hard to get it,” he recalls.

“I became a youth coach there. After I got injured and couldn’t play anymore, my uncle, who was the president of SVEB, asked me to take the sessions for their second team and become head of their academy. I was only 18 or 19 but I was coaching at both SVEB and PSV, it was a super time.

“Everything I learned at PSV I tried to implement at SVEB. My dad worked as a creative designer at a printers and I designed two big flipovers (flip charts) with our playing formation on and 15 different principles. One flipover for when we had the ball, one for when the opposition had the ball.

“It was implemented so that all teams from the youngest to the oldest age groups trained and played in this way. It was brilliant. I tried to create a common idea inside the club based on an authentic Dutch ‘total football’ way — trying to be dominant and structured with and without the ball.

“I grew as a coach during my five years at PSV. People really took care of me and guided me. They really wanted me to do well. In my second year I got a small contract, in my third year I got a full-time contract and in my fourth year I went to the United States to give presentations and work together with a few clubs.

“Then I felt I was ready to work outside of Holland. I was 24 and in my last season the PSV academy was named the best one in the country. That was the moment to go.”

Porto came calling.

Having been heavily influenced by the coaching techniques of the great Johan Cruyff and former Feyenoord boss Wiel Coerver during his formative years, Lijnders found new sources of inspiration in Portugal.

Not least in the methodology of Vitor Frade, who helped to revolutionise coaching by combining all phases of the game rather than having specific physical, tactical or technical training. With his tactical periodisation, Frade sought to ensure that the tactical dimension was at the forefront of every session.

“Vitor Frade took me to Porto,” says Lijnders.

“I had my own ideas. I admired Coerver and his attacking philosophy. That if you want to play an attacking game, each player needs an all-round technique and a spirit of initiative. That in each position we needed attacking impulses.

“Of course there was Cruyff who taught the false No 9 and the three-diamond-three. I had all these ideas but without great structure.

“Vitor Frade helped me to structure my ideas into principles. That if you want to play like this then on a Wednesday it’s better to train like this. I was an individual coach but he made me look at the collective. I’ll always be grateful that I met him. For me, he’s in the category of Cruyff and Coerver. He’s very important for a new generation of Portuguese coaches who came through with his ideas.”

The names of the gifted youngsters Lijnders helped to develop during his seven years at Porto roll off the tongue. The impressive list includes Joao Felix, Ruben Neves, Andre Gomes, Andre Silva, Diogo Dalot and Goncalo Paciencia.

“To explain the culture of Porto in one sentence; you go into the complex and written in big letters are the words ‘we love the ones who hate to lose’,” says Lijnders.

“Between 2006 and 2011 there was a project there to restructure the first team, the academy and the scouting. I became responsible for the academy restructure with Luis Castro, who is now the manager of Shakhtar Donetsk. He’s a good friend of mine. Vitor Matos, who is working here at Liverpool now, was a young coach in that project.

“I coached each Porto team two times a week, even the first team after a while in small groups. I was also responsible for the department of individual development.

“It’s completely different in southern Europe compared to Holland and England. Where we are thoughtful before we say something, in southern Europe it’s more emotional. I enjoyed working there a lot. We were successful with the academy and the first team. We were five-times champions and won the Europa League. It was special to be part of that.”

Lijnders grabs the water bottles and mobile phones on the table in front of us and starts rearranging them. Briefly, he’s transported back to the pristine green fields of the Iberian Peninsula.

“We would have eight flat goals on the training pitch where you can shoot from both ways. I’d have 100 balls and 30 to 40 kids,” he explains.

“We called it ‘Zidane’ and ‘Maradona’. ‘Zidane’ was under the highest pressure, find solutions, shield the ball. ‘Maradona’ was about getting the ball, trying to outplay and shoot. It was about showing initiative, playing in the opposition half.

“It was a great time with a lot of talent and the young boys inspired me. It makes me really proud to see them play now. To see Joao Felix now, wow, how he turns, combines, how he makes the game so unpredictable…”

By the summer of 2014 Lijnders was looking for a new challenge. He was on the brink of leaving Porto for Ajax when a phone call from then Liverpool academy coach Michael Beale changed everything. He was offered the job of under-16s coach.

“Liverpool kidnapped me!” he laughs.

“I was in Wales for my UEFA A Licence. Over that weekend I had to give a presentation and while I was there Michael and I met to talk. He’d heard a lot about me.

“On the Monday I was supposed to go to Ajax to make the final negotiations with them. I had to call my wife and tell her there had been a change of plan.

“Michael said: ‘You’re coming in the car to Liverpool with us.’ I went to the Hope Street Hotel and I was in the Quarter (a nearby restaurant), drinking espresso and the sun was shining. It was a beautiful day.

“Why did I want to leave Porto? I wanted just one team to put into practice all I had learned over the years at PSV and Porto. When Liverpool said I could have the under-16s and under-15s, I thought ‘this is perfect’.”

Lijnders had attracted interest from Manchester United the previous year but after Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement those discussions had gone cold. United’s loss proved to be Liverpool’s gain.

His impact at the club’s Kirkby academy over the course of the 2014-15 season was immense. The squad of youngsters he inherited included Trent Alexander-Arnold and Rhian Brewster.

Alexander-Arnold, now arguably the most complete right-back in world football, told The Athletic earlier this season about the importance of the role played by Lijnders in his rise through the ranks.

“Trent developed as a guy incredibly that season,” Lijnders says.

“He was my captain and our No 6 with only three players behind him in a three-diamond-three so he had to do everything well. You have leaders by talking, but Trent was a leader very naturally.

“After sessions, Trent and I would stay out there for another 20 minutes doing some skills until the lights went out. Trent would always be like ‘again, again’.

“That was one of my favourite years of coaching. I must have said 50 times, ‘Guys, I thought you couldn’t play better than yesterday but today you proved me wrong again’. We trained for two hours each day and every session ended with three teams of seven. Goal on, goal off. The better you played, the more you played. With the streetwise Liverpool boys that was the way to push them.

“I really believe that if you want to play quick then it starts in the mind and you have to train like the game. I do it a lot now with the first team. One team attacks, one team defends. They have 40 seconds to score, if they can’t then they’re out. If they score then they play against the third team who are waiting. You split the pitch in two and we call it the ‘wave’ game. If the team defending win the ball then they have to break the halfway line.

“That’s how we want to play. We’re not defending our goal, we defend the halfway line first. And if you lose the ball it has to be intense with maximum concentration.”

Lijnders was invited to Melwood by then boss Brendan Rodgers on a number of occasions to talk about his counter-pressing methods. He blew Rodgers away with his tactical insights and in the summer of 2015 he was promoted to the Northern Irishman’s backroom staff as first-team development coach. He became the key link between the club’s two bases in Kirkby and Melwood and relished being responsible for the ‘Talent Group’ which brought the best young players together from across a number of age groups.

However, just four months later, uncertainty reigned after results nosedived and Rodgers was sacked. Fears that his own job was in jeopardy were swiftly alleviated by Fenway Sports Group president Mike Gordon.

“When Brendan got fired I was really upset. I saw it on the news and called him straightaway,” Lijnders recalls.

“Twenty minutes later Mike Gordon called me. In your lifetime there are moments that you will never forget and that’s one of them; why people will always be very important to you.

“Mike explained everything to me. He said: ‘Pep, you’re here, you will be part of the set-up with the new coach but I need you to help me.’ They needed a week to get everything organised and he wanted me to take the training by myself. I tried to keep Melwood alive and keep everyone going.

“During their talks, Jurgen said to Mike: ‘Listen, this is the staff I want to work with, plus I’ll need a goalkeeper coach and a sports science guy.’ But Mike told him ‘Pep has to stay, I promise you’ll like him.’

“This is a funny story that Mike later told me. Jurgen called him two months later and said: ‘Mike, you were completely wrong, you told me I’d like Pep.’ Mike was like ‘Oh, OK…’ Then Jurgen said: ‘I don’t like Pep, I love him!’”

There was another moment early on in Klopp’s reign when Lijnders realised that his work was being appreciated by the new man at the helm.

“Jurgen came to me with a letter that someone from Germany had written to him,” he reveals.

“It had a CV with it from a coach who was looking for a job at Liverpool. It was written in English and Jurgen came to me and said ‘Pep, what is this? I don’t understand it.’ So I started to read it out and said ‘Gaffer, this guy wants to be on the training pitch with you doing sessions.’

“Jurgen said: ‘Ah, so basically he wants your job?’ I said: ‘Yes, you could look at it like that!’ He took the letter, ripped it up, threw it in the bin and walked off without saying anything. That was when I thought ‘things are going well here’. It’s difficult to put a moment like that into words.
“When Jurgen got announced, I had a good feeling. I thought it would work well but you can never be 100 per cent sure. For the first few months it felt like I was always writing, probably a page of A4 every day, with all the messages he had been giving to the players.

“You need to know exactly what the manager wants. To coach is easy but to know what to coach is much more difficult. Jurgen had a way of coaching and exercises which were close to my own. It was so nice to find someone so good.”

Lijnders walked away from a job, a club and a city he loved when he accepted the opportunity to become manager of NEC Nijmegen in January 2018. His mission was to get them promoted back to the Eredivisie.

It was a decision based on professional ambition but also personal anguish. His dad Leo was battling cancer.

“He was really ill and I’m the oldest child. I had felt guilty for a long time that I wasn’t at home to take care of him,” Lijnders reveals.

“If that hadn’t been the case then I wouldn’t have left in that January. I would have at least finished the season before making any decision. It was a difficult time. I felt like I was leaving a really big chapter of being abroad behind. I felt that I’d go back home for a long time.

“I was so blessed at Liverpool but there was a big desire to become a leader of a team and be more responsible for the coaching process — not just delivering it but planning and preparing. I had a big desire to step out of my comfort zone and be the main man.”

Lijnders’ stint at NEC lasted just five months. Having finished third and missed out on automatic promotion, they lost in the play-offs to Emmen. Going from being a coach to a manager proved to be a steep learning curve.

“I knew it would take time,” he adds. “I went to a very traditional, historic club, one of the bigger ones in Holland, who weren’t in a good moment and had a lot of problems.

“As the manager, you have much more communication with the team and in the beginning that worked really well. I think one of my strengths is explaining things.

“The problem then as the main man was to guide and manage expectations of the people around you when things don’t go well. When you have a few bad results, you have to keep everyone in the same direction and convince them that the way you are setting up is still the right way.

“A lot of times with development, first there’s a period of instability because you ask players to do things that they aren’t used to. I asked a lot, that’s my nature. As a manager, you really need to learn with time, you need to learn from the mistakes that you make, you need to learn from the situations you have to deal with.

“In the back of my mind, I was always thinking: ‘How would Jurgen approach this?’ That half a year was really important for me. I wouldn’t be able to support Jurgen in the way I do if I hadn’t had that short time away. I respected him a lot already but I respected him even more having been in that job and seen what comes at you.”

Lijnders parted company with NEC by mutual consent in the middle of May 2018 and a fortnight later he accepted Klopp’s invitation to attend the Champions League final against Real Madrid in Kiev.

The perceived wisdom is that his return to Melwood was sealed during discussions in the Ukrainian capital. However, the truth is that Lijnders had long since agreed to re-join Klopp’s staff.

Klopp needed a new assistant after Zeljko Buvac’s surprise exit in the April and it wasn’t a long shortlist he had drawn up.

“Jurgen called me really early,” Lijnders reveals.

“It wasn’t after the season, it was in the season. He told me he was searching for a new No 2. He explained that he wasn’t making a list, he said ‘I’m just asking you.’

“I never expected it. I answered ‘yes’ straightaway but I told him ‘Gaffer, I’m still competing to be the champion and if we don’t win the league, we have the play-offs so I need to focus on getting them back to the highest level.’

“I also told him I’d need to speak with my wife Danielle. Her family lived seven miles away, we were living in our house on the river and the kids were all going to school with their friends and nephews, all the family together.

“I was standing in front of the river talking to Jurgen and I had to walk back towards the house. Danielle was sitting outside with my mum having a glass of wine.

“I said: ‘OK, we really need to talk.’ My mum could see it in my eyes. Danielle and I went for a long walk by the river and discussed everything. For me, it was clear, but it was really important for me that she was behind it. I couldn’t do this alone. I need my family around me.

“I gave everything to get NEC promoted but it wasn’t to be. But whatever had happened, I’d already decided that I was coming back to Liverpool. Nobody knew though, only me and Jurgen. I didn’t want to create any fuss before Kiev. There are two big things in my life. My Liverpool family and my own family. That’s it, nothing else.”

The day he signed the contract to become Liverpool’s assistant manager was especially poignant.

“My dad got the test results back to say that he was completely clean. He had been sick for two years. There was a lot of emotion. Thankfully, he’s still good now. He lives in my hometown but he comes over for some games. He never stops watching football. He knows a lot, well he thinks he does! He’s become a big Liverpool fan.”

The role Lijnders came back to was very different from the one he left behind. More demanding but also more rewarding as he was tasked with filling the void created by Buvac’s departure.

“In Holland they said I was going back to my old job but that wasn’t true,” he says.

“I became the No 2. If that hadn’t been the job Jurgen offered me then I wouldn’t have come back. He gave me responsibility for the training process and that was very important to me.

“Before, I didn’t decide if we played eight minutes or six minutes, whether we did this exercise or that exercise, I just delivered sessions. When I came back I was responsible.

“My time away from Liverpool was good for self-reflection. I became much clearer how I wanted to work and what is decisive to become successful. I know exactly what I would do differently now. No more concessions, we do it like I want in training, nothing else, convincing each day, create happiness in the players, a clear week plan and we play everywhere we go in the same manner, full energy.”

What does a normal day in the life of Pep Lijnders look like?

He says: “My alarm is my youngest one. My two boys are three-and-a-half and five-and-a-half. When they come into our bed, sleeping is done!

“Early in the morning, I usually call Vitor Manos (elite development coach), I’ll text Jurgen and then come into Melwood. I have a meeting with Jurgen in his office to talk about training. What are we going to do? Who is delivering what and how is it going to look? Do we want to have Sadio (Mane) on the left wing or as the striker? Things like that.

“When the training is planned, I explain what the ideas behind it are to Andreas (Kornmayer, head of fitness and conditioning), Pete, Vitor, John (Achterberg, goalkeeping coach) and Jack (Robinson, assistant goalkeeping coach).

“Then I go out and put everything on the pitch. Normally Jurgen has a meeting with the players either in the dressing room or outside to give some details about the sessions. We train always in the same intensity as the game, same concentration and tempo. This is the secret of training in my opinion.

“Everything is designed around the training. The day basically starts when the training ends. I’ll watch the session back on the video and try to get as many opinions as possible from the people around me. Then the planning starts for the next session. We make decisions about how tomorrow will look. What do we want to do? What players will we have?

“I have to speak with the medical department and try to plan the session in more detail and I’ll put it in the tactics planner and work everything out in terms of how it relates to our next opponent. Pete will also give input. Then the plan is clear for the next day and I’ll go home. In the evening when the kids have gone to bed I’ll watch footage of our opponents.”

During Lijnders’ time as assistant manager, Liverpool have collected an extraordinary 155 points out of a possible 174. They have gone to the next level since winning the Champions League in Madrid last June and find themselves 13 points clear at the top of the Premier League as they close in on a first domestic title since 1990.

“Winning something big puts more conviction, more trust into everything; subconsciously you feel stronger. There’s a real hunger to fight for more prizes,” he says.

“But for me it’s about the journey and how the team developed. The trust I got from keeping things simple, never giving up on our way, believing in training and video meetings to improve, clear messages with a lot of conviction from Jurgen, Pete or myself, repeating that process over and over again.

“Trusting the players to always look at our best games and think about what steps won us those games. Was it our full backs being constantly ready to jump? Was it the centre backs coming in front of offensive players rather than stepping back? Was it our midfielders being really together and always connected rather than just searching for it? It’s about doing it our way again, becoming better and searching for perfection. We know it doesn’t exist but you still have to search for it.

“People say Liverpool developed so much here and there but I think our main strength is that we’re always together. By that I mean on the pitch, the distances, the organisation, the way we are. That’s the only way to be an aggressive, pressing team. If the distances and the organisation are not right then you have no chance.

“That’s where we’ve made the biggest improvement. Wherever the game is on the pitch, we are there together. A compact team, an intense team, both on and off the ball. Jurgen talks about the principle that everyone is responsible for everything. It’s easy to say, it’s harder to put it into practice on the pitch for 95 minutes but that’s what these players have been doing a lot. If we recover well and have freshness in our game, we go into every game with a common idea of chasing them all over the pitch.

“Each individual in our team has become a better player from working here. If you compare (Andy) Robertson, Trent and Sadio to when they came in consistency wise… I could go on. Jurgen has created a culture of preparation. Each department in the club feels this responsibility and is better connected. It’s clear what we want and the standards have gone up and up and up.”

The style of the team has certainly evolved. Game-management has been a feature of this record-breaking season which has seen Liverpool drop just two points. They put themselves in winning positions and then play with real maturity and control.

“That has to grow within a team, you can’t just put it there,” Lijnders says.

“Even if we’re 3-0 up we want to be dominant. We still search for the 4-0 but the way we do that can be different from how we searched to make it 1-0 or 2-0. We can make more passes, we can switch the play more from one side to the other, we can create more doubt for the opponents with our positioning. But we are still searching for the 4-0.

“When you become European champions, when you become more dominant on the ball, you don’t rely as much on defensive organisation and counter-attack which is a very attractive part of our game. We’ve become better on the ball as teams have set up differently against us. I’d say 75 per cent of teams in the Premier League, even the bigger teams, changed their system or approach to play against us this season – lines much closer together, dropping deeper.

“Can we then expect to have attack, attack, attack? No, we can’t. We have to respect that and find a new way against them. It’s why our variety of creating and scoring is so important. It pushes us to evolve again. What I like about our game is that we have so many different weapons and that makes us unpredictable. It’s not about playing it from A to B to C to D. That’s not the game we want. Even our defensive principles aren’t like that. That makes us very difficult to read.

“Teams can’t just drop deep against us and try to stop us playing through them because Trent and Robbo will get down the wings and then you’ve got the centre-backs bringing it forward and creating space. There’s a lot of freedom because we focus on principles rather than exact plays. We know that if all this is present then the mentality of Jurgen and the boys will put us above the other team. But all this has to be right (Lijnders bangs the desk).

“You can have a lot of passion but if there’s no structure then you have no chance. You need organisation, tactical discipline and the right distances. That’s the base – that’s the father and mother of football and being a consistent team.”

Lijnders’ stock has risen to the point that he’s been mentioned as a potential successor to Klopp one day. But such talk is far from his thoughts. He’s too busy savouring every second of the here and now.

“It makes me proud but it’s not realistic because it’s not important at this moment in time,” he adds.

“My only ambition is to support Jurgen and our project in the best way possible. Mike Gordon and Jurgen have been the most important people in my career. They gave me the chance and the belief to lead the process of training and methodology with the first team.

“This is my life. I feel passionate about this club and I feel blessed to work with passionate colleagues. I feel that what we have here in this period we will never experience again in our lives.

“So many things have come together with the owners, the manager, people behind the manager who in hard moments never give up, and a playing group who are so together and really want to play for Liverpool and for us as a staff. In the end I really hope that we get what the boys deserve.

“I believe each football project is like the sun rising up and going down, and for our project it’s not even noon. That’s the reason why we committed for another four years.”

Like the team he has helped to shape, Pep Lijnders is relentless.

***** THE ATHLETIC ******

****** BY JAMES PEARCE ******
Jesus Christ the state of the athletic. You are fucking sports writers, the absolute dregs of a dying art, but, here's your life raft. Because you, you are one of the good ones, on a just and noble cause. Those pesky editors that used to constrain you? No longer. Editors, we don't need editors, word counts Pah!

That's why we're getting this gold, with all the wisdom of a long form motivational poster.
Loved it, and I loved the conclusion- that this chapter in Liverpool's history has a chunk of leaves left to flip.

“I believe each football project is like the sun rising up and going down, and for our project it’s not even noon. That’s the reason why we committed for another four years.”
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