I don’t know exactly how you get into becoming a specialist throw-in coach for a Premier League team. I also don’t know if it’s necessary for you to be Danish but in Liverpool’s case, he is. Thomas Gronnemark has started to work with the players at Melwood, honing the nuances of their throw-ins. Presumably, the instruction is more complicated than “leave your feet on the ground” because Jürgen Klopp seems excited by the possibility that Gronnemark’s contributions to Liverpool’s training can make a difference.
“I think it’s not only important to me, it’s important to everybody,” Klopp said.
Specialist throw-in coaches may be all the rage in a few seasons and all the top clubs will have them. But, at the moment, it’s about as unique a position as one will find on a training ground.
“To be honest, I’d never heard about a throw-in coach,” added Klopp. “How it is as a football manager, you know a lot about different things. I played the game. I’ve been managing since around about 18 years or so, but that doesn’t mean I’m a goalkeeper specialist and I’m obviously not a throw-in specialist.”
There’s generally a flurry of movement during a throw-in. The offensive players are running into space, offering themselves as targets for the thrower. The ball is thrown to the receiving player’s chest or feet or lobbed for distance onto a teammates head. There is also the long, long throw-in into the box from the sideline but we will not speak of such things here.
But Gronnemark isn’t just interested in controlling the flurry of red shirts on the pitch. He also has ideas for the thrower.
“I know about different movements, what we always did, but it was not 100 per cent clear – maybe it’s my fault – how I can improve the guy with the ball, not only the movements of all the other guys,” said Klopp.
“When I heard about Thomas, it was clear to me I wanted to meet him; when I met him, it was 100 per cent clear I wanted to employ him. Now he is here and we work on that from time to time.
“We use his information as well during the weeks when he is not here. We use it of course for the Academy as well. It’s good.”
“You cannot have enough specialists around you. I must always be the guy who makes the decisions on when we use all these specialists but you cannot have enough. We have the fitness, medical department, we have the nutrition, and now we have somebody for throw-ins.
“He’s a good guy, to be honest. He has already [made a difference]. The boys like it. When you have somebody who knows what he is talking about, it always helps when you want to improve something.”