Football managers often lead a nomadic life, moving from club to club — and sometimes country to country — every year or so. Certainly, a minority establish themselves long-term — by which we mean 3-5 years — at a single club, but the average lifespan of a Premier League manager these days is a mere 15 months. Jürgen Klopp is an exception to this rule, having spent seven years at both Mainz and Borussia Dortmund, while fulfilling his current contract would see him match that accomplishment at Liverpool.
If a manager's position seems volatile, it is even more unpredictable for backroom and coaching staff. Many top managers retain a team of assistants that follow them from job to job, which means that backroom staff already at the club will often be released by their employer. A higher percentage of coaches remain for longer at a given club, but there is less autonomy regarding the security of their position.
Jürgen Klopp has loyal right-hand men that accompany him in Željko Buvač and Peter Krawietz, but the remainder of Liverpool's existing backroom staff stayed on when the German took on the managerial position. Among them is Pepijn Lijnders, first team development coach, whose main responsibility is to help establish a set style of football to be played throughout the club, while ensuring that the gap between the youth sides and the first team is bridged as well as possible. Klopp had no knowledge of Lijnders or his role before he arrived at Anfield, but is delighted with the role the Dutchman plays.
“I’m really happy. I never could’ve imagined that I needed another assistant, but now we have him and I cannot imagine how it would be without him," said the German when quizzed on Lijnders' contribution.
“I love his mood, I love his attitude, I love already how smart he is, but still really open to learning.
“So for us, it’s perfect," the manager continued. "Especially then with his fluent English, he’s a big help for Zeljko [Buvac] especially in the sessions. They have a fantastic relationship, actually.
“I’m really happy that the club decided before I came in that he has to stay. I had no idea who he is, where he’s coming from, but it’s an interesting life already that he had, with being that long at Porto and all that stuff. Fantastic guy and an even better manager in the future.”
Hopefully, Lijnders is able to ensure a few more Liverpool youngsters make the leap to the senior team before taking up management full-time. With so much talent looking on the verge of breaking through — Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ovie Ejaria, Sheyi Ojo, Harry Wilson and Ben Woodburn, to name a few — it would be a shame if the man tasked with their development were to leave before seeing his labour bear fruit.