With pre-season approaching, Brendan Rodgers is yet to fill the vacant positions of assistant manager and first-team coach. After Mike Marsh and Colin Pascoe left their roles, the club have looked at a number of options to fill the void. Reported targets were Rene Meulensteen, Pako Ayesteran and former Liverpool defender Sami Hyypia. One name that has slipped under the radar is Pepijn Lijnders.
Lijnders is reportedly very close to becoming the new first-team coach at Liverpool. Many would not have heard his name before or will know very little about him.
Last summer, the academy went through a major reshuffle; Alex Inglethorpe became the Academy director, Michael Beale became the Under-21s manager and Neil Critchley became the Under-18s manager. There was also new man in charge of the Under-16s, Pep Lijnders.
Liverpool acquired his services from Portuguese side Porto, where he spent seven seasons. Before that, he coached at Dutch outfit PSV Eindhoven for five years. He predominantly works with youth players and guides them through a crucial period in their careers.
When talking about his coaching philosophy in a column for the official Liverpool website, Pep said:
“My vision is based on two universal goals: winning and development. I believe that winning is a logical result of development, so my complete focus this season is on planning and preparing my team and each unique individual to compete every day at a higher level. Team and individual development go hand-in-hand and make each other stronger. In my opinion, you can’t see them separately.
“Our style is to attack, with and without the ball. We realise that the game is played with one ball, our ball, and we steal it back wherever on the pitch and we use it to attack the opponent. It doesn’t matter who we play against, we will press them high and aggressively and we will attack and attack them again. You can make a top team or top players look bad by pressing them intensely and aggressively. This, in combination with the Scouse mentality, makes for a very effective path to success.”
If that didn’t sound promising enough, even Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher had his say on him recently:
“With regards to Pepijn Lijnders he is someone I’ve seen work at the academy and spoken to three or four times over the last 12 months.
“There’s no doubt he’s a very good coach – he’s got experience from Porto and PSV in the last few years.”
Having worked with young players for so long, it begs the question: Is Pep Lijnders ready for a role with the senior team? Well, if he does get the job, only time will tell.