Eyebrows were raised back when Liverpool hired Thomas Gronnemark to be the club’s throw in coach.
The move infuriated traditionalists who never gave much thought to a simple throw in. But it was evidence of the club’s modus operandi to be forward thinking and do innovative things others would not.
Gronnemark himself had performed similar roles at other clubs, making him the world’s foremost throw in specialist. He’s attracted quite a bit of interest for a relatively obscure coaching staff member, but he seems to be thriving in the role. He recently discussed his role at the club starting with Jürgen Klopp’s first phone call, for the official Liverpool site.
“There was a voicemail message so I went to the car to listen to it,” Gronnemark recalls.
“It was Jürgen Klopp - and it was a good thing that I was sat down when I heard him! Even though it had been a dream to coach at some of the biggest clubs, you never know if it will happen, that’s the way it is.
“I stopped the car and we spoke and he said: ‘I read an article about you in a German newspaper, we had a really good season [in 2017-18] but we were really bad at throw-ins, we lost it almost every time.’
“He invited me to Melwood the week after for a visit. We had a fantastic meeting and talked about not only throw-ins but also a lot of things. I speak German too so that helped, as speaking the same language always brings people closer together.
“It should only have been a meeting but the day after there was a chance for me to coach 21 players who had been on vacation and were not at the World Cup. Then, the week after, we signed the first contract. At first it was only for six months but pretty early we signed another half-year contract and since then, I have been signing full-year contracts.”
Discussing how it’s going, he’s obviously happy with the work.
“We don’t have to score from a throw-in to make me really happy. It could also be a single throw-in where we just keep possession and all the movement and all the communication is perfect and I just say, ‘Wow!’ Then I am really, really happy.
“This is now my fourth season and if the training didn’t work, and the team thought it didn’t work, I would not be here.
“For me, that is the best proof that it works - that I am still here!”
Gronnemark is emblematic of how Liverpool have pushed different boundaries. Long may it continue.