John Achterberg has been a coach with Liverpool Football Club since 2009, and first team goalkeeping coach since 2011. During his time, he has worked with five different managers - Rafa Benitez, Roy Hodgson, Kenny Dalglish, Brendan Rodgers, and now Jürgen Klopp - and two different first choice keepers in Pepe Reina and Simon Mignolet.
With Loris Karius now in the mix, Achterberg will have coaching responsibilities over two keepers who both reasonably expect to be in the running for regular starting duties. It should be an interesting contest, and Liverpool will be hoping that whichever keeper comes out on top can establish some consistency at a position which has had its ups and downs in recent history.
As added preparation for the challenges ahead, Achterberg has completed work for, and received, the UEFA Pro Licence, which is the last coaching qualification available after completion of the UEFA B and A Licences. The Pro Licence is also considered to be a preparatory step for those interested in management, which is perhaps why Achterberg's participation may be slightly puzzling to some. What does Achterberg hope to glean from the experience and how does he expect it to help his goalkeeper coaching duties?
"I don’t really have any ambition to be a manager. I’m very happy with my current job because coaching keepers is what I love doing. That’s my passion but it’s good to have the Pro Licence next to your name.It’s always worth getting more knowledge of different things. You are never too old to improve and learn. The experience will certainly help. You pick up interesting bits from different sports that you can put to good use in the future."
Liverpool supporters will hope (no doubt in vain) that this will be the missing piece of the puzzle that allows Achterberg to correct the course on performance between the sticks. Since joining the club, Achterberg has seen the decline of Pepe Reina and the mostly-sideways trajectory of Mignolet's fortunes. Whether this has been more a case of a "correlation" rather than "causation" remains to be seen. Klopp, at least publicly, has voiced his support and admiration for Achterberg's work ethic, but given the recurring vulnerability in set plays in recent history, it would be fair to expect that Achterberg might be on a short leash going forward, especially if Karius fails to deliver on his promise over the coming year.