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Thomas Gronnemark and the Benefits of Being an Outsider

In an exclusive interview with TLO, Liverpool’s throw-in coach highlighted an important distinction that sets him apart.

Coach Thomas Gronnemark speaks to the players of Liverpool during a training session at Melwood Training Ground on October 15, 2019 in Liverpool, England. Photo by Nick Taylor/Liverpool FC/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

Thomas Gronnemark, throw-in coach extraordinaire, was kind enough to once again have a chat with us about Life, Throw-ins, and Everything.

I’m still working on the full article (or possibly two), but I wanted to briefly focus one important thing he touched on: his experience as an “outsider” in the world of football.

“I’m not a football coach,” Gronnemark explained. “I don’t have any football education.

“I’m totally sure that if I had taken youth coaching education, then UEFA C, B, A, and then Pro, I’d never be a throw-in coach, because when you’re in an environment and not developing a lot, or doing things that they did 5 or 10 or 30 years ago, then it’s really hard to be innovative.”

This is a really insightful observation. And it is one that can be applied well beyond football and coaching.

Education is often necessary to succeed in life, but it can also act to stifle innovation and creativity. At worst, it can become an echo chamber of good ol’ boys, who perpetuate the same ways of doing things because that’s the way it has always been done.

For 140 years of association football, throw-ins were a mere afterthought. For most clubs and most managers they still are. But not for Gronnemark. Or Klopp. Or Liverpool.

Of course, Jurgen Klopp is an “outsider” as well. In Raphael Honigstein’s fantastic Klopp biography Bring the Noise, he talks about how second division players never became first division managers, and certainly not at the biggest clubs. Klopp changed that.

As I’ve touched on several times before, including recently, this outsider/outside-the-box-thinking is arguably Klopp’s biggest advantage as a manager. He gained success not despite his unconventional background, but because of it. And in turn, he is more open-minded when it comes to other unorthodox histories. Including Gronnemark’s, obviously.

We’ll have more on Gronnemark soon, but I just wanted to highlight this one part of the interview, which I personally really enjoyed.

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