Pepijn Lijnders has been integral to just about everything Liverpool have done the last few years.
He rejoined the club as Jürgen Klopp’s assistant in the summer of 2018 and was crucial to Liverpool’s tactical evolution into a side that won major trophies. As the club overhaul that team and rebuild going forward, he’s inevitably going to drive a lot of key decisions.
One man who’s clearly intended for a long term role is Diogo Jota. And it’s a clear sign of trust that Lijnders speaks of his value.
“It’s great Diogo has joined us [in the preseason training camp] because you see immediately the speed he has and, at the same time, so much control over his body and the ball”, Lijnders told the official Liverpool site. “It’s frightening. He gives our front line a lot of direction and energy.
“Diogo is not a typical Portuguese winger who receives the ball in his feet and creates dis-organisation with dribbles from outside. Diogo is vertical, a second striker in the box, a pure Liverpool winger. He smells the goal, is technically on a high level. Especially with our passing game we need Diogo’s movements in behind the last line. He defends on a high level.”
Discussing preseason more generally, Lijnders explained that “it was a close game against Hertha but unfortunately we lost. We’ve learned in the last years that failure is never fatal and that success isn’t final. It’s all about courage, as John Wooden says so well. I really believe we build a strong team for these rainy days, a proper shelter.
“So, that’s why it is good when things don’t go your way in pre-season, because these moments are in each game, in each phase of the season. The target is to get more eight or nines out of 10, no fives or sixes anymore. Back to consistency.
“You just learn the most from the mistakes in pre-season and there is time to correct them. Jürgen always says, ‘The pass we play is the best pass in the world’. It means even if it’s not good, we react immediately and change the outcome. It’s a life lesson in my opinion.
“That’s why it is so important that young players are patient, they can make mistakes with us. We will keep faith and will change the outcome.”
Liverpool are undoubtedly in great hands with this coaching staff. Lijnders and co will drive whatever changes the team needs to make under the watchful eye of Klopp, and we can trust they will make the right decisions.