Liverpool’s goalkeeping coach, John Achterberg, is now in his ninth season with the Merseyside club. So far, he has managed to maintain his position under five managers, from Rafa Benitez onward. Actually, that’s not completely accurate, because he was promoted under Kenny Daglish.
To many Liverpool fans, the Dutchman’s appointment and subsequent longevity in his post, is not seen as a good thing. During his time here, Achterberg has overseen the drop-off in the form of Pepe Reina, and consistently underwhelming performances over the years from Simon Mignolet and (despite very recent positive signs) Loris Karius.
If there is not a causal relationship between our poor goalkeeping and Achterberg, there certainly has been a correlation. Regardless, the club’s official website decided now was as good of a time as any to sit down with the goalkeeping coach and have a chat.
He spoke at length about how he is working with the analytics department, and the coaching staff to adapt the keepers to play in a style that matches Klopp’s philosophy.
“You show them the videos where the opponent have weakness and if you win the ball as a goalie, you need to try and restart quickly,” Achterberg explained, perhaps giving insight as to why Karius has won the starting gig.
“That’s what you create in training; if you catch a corner, can we get a quick throw or kick to put players in? That’s part of our job and we try to get better and better at it. In the game at Southampton it did come off, and that’s what you try and do to set us off for the next goal.”
“The boss wants us to be like that and that’s a good thing. Liverpool’s philosophy has always been advanced play, which for a goalie is always harder to cover everything because obviously your goalie has to be more advanced in everything.”
This led Achterberg to discuss the difficulty of being between the sticks at Liverpool, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally.
“It’s easier if you play with a team with 11 behind the ball because there are smaller spaces to cover, and so it’s easier to cover as a goalie.
“Playing for Liverpool is one of the hardest jobs. There are 500 million supporters who all have their own vision and input, and now with social media it’s bigger of course. The goalies all deal with it and it’s good for them. It’s all good.”
Is it though? Is it good?
Of course, the keepers aren’t the only ones who have to deal with social media fallout. Achterberg has, and likely will continue to be, a fan favorite scapegoat for any and all goalkeeping problems in the foreseeable future.
However, Klopp has repeatedly spoken highly of Achterberg, so it seems the Dutchman is here to stay. Hopefully the tenth season is the charm.