Shankly. Paisley. Fagan. Dalglish. The exploits of that golden generation of Liverpool managers, and the Boot Room culture that kept excellence (and trophies!) ticking over, is legendary.
Since those heady days, Liverpool has had to suffer through booms and busts: a rollercoaster of emotions as new managers come in, perhaps succeed for a bit, and then come crashing down. Quietly, Jurgen Klopp appears to be building a culture of ready-made successors, for the sad day when his departure eventually comes.
This season Dutch assistant coach Pep Lijnders has been getting thrust more and more into the spotlight, even taking over presser duties for Klopp before EFL League Cup matches. And wouldn’t you know it, he decided to talk up another recent addition to the backroom staff, Vitor Matos.
“For me, he is our best signing of the season,” Lijnders said, which seems harsh on Adrian, Elliott, and Van Den Berg, but I digress. “He is a talented coach, a very intelligent coach. He can make the next step with all these young players. We already see the impact he made on them.
“Having one really intelligent, talented coach for young players – one, he can inspire eight or nine of them. It’s really important to have the right people in front of them.
“He connects. Of course, he influences the boys on the pitch and trains with them, but he connects departments. So he connects our Academy, Alex [Inglethorpe] and Critch [Neil Critchley] with them; he connects me and Jürgen, of course; he connects Julian Ward [loan pathways manager] and Michael Edwards [sporting director].
“So he is basically the connector of these three parts of the club. It’s good, we’re really happy that he’s here.”
Or, as Noel put it on Twitter:
Liverpool's next manager on Liverpool's next assistant manager. https://t.co/CtftHYt5K4— Liverpool Offside (@LFCOffside) October 29, 2019
For all the (honestly inexplicable) talk of Steven Gerrard coming in as Liverpool’s ready-made Klopp replacement, it seems as if the club are grooming Lijnders—and the rest of the backroom staff—to take over the reins upon Klopp’s departure.
Of course, it might not work. Things have obviously changed in the decades since the famous Boot Room fell by the wayside.
But on the other hand, it might work. And it shows some forward-thinking and long-term planning from the club, taking steps to not be caught flat-footed by the departure of a once-in-a-generation manger, as is still the case with a post-Fergie Manchester United.