While Jürgen Klopp is the one who made headlines, he is not the only member of the staff who will be leaving at the end of the season. Liverpool will be building their management team from the ground up, because Pep Lijnders, Peter Krawietz, and Vitor Matos are also heading elsewhere.
In an interview with the official site, assistant coach Lijnders spoke about how he came to this big decision.
“10 years of the club and my boys don’t know anything else, they are Scousers,” Lijnders said when asked how difficult it would be to leave.
“I owe this club everything. They don’t owe me anything, to be honest. It’s 10 years full of dedication. I always said I will finish with Jürgen; the moment I will not assist anyone else, that’s the moment I will go and I will manage. That was always the case. So when we spoke, it was clear for me: OK, then I go and manage, and we end this project together [that] we started. But yeah, it’s not easy.”
The two men are notoriously close, and Klopp has spent the better part of a decade praising his right hand man.
“The most influential guy in the last years definitely in this club was Pep Lijnders. The job he did is absolutely exceptional. The inspiration he is for me is absolutely exceptional,” Klopp said.
The admiration is mutual, and Lijnders said of their relationship, “He’s a friend, a brother, a proper football brother I think. We’ve been through a lot here: good times, bad times. I have full trust, we trust each other fully, that’s why it works. The way he gives me the freedom to lead the team, to design the training, to make tactical decisions, that says everything, no?”
With half a season still to go and everything still to play for, it’s important to know that this news hasn’t disrupted the players or weakened their drive to push on. Lijnders claims that it has been a positive reaction from the players.
“They are… you have players who have been here for how long?” he asked rhetorically. “Eight years probably. Players who came through the Academy, they live this club and I always say this club is so much bigger than any of us, so as long as that relationship – the Holy Trinity between the fans, the gaffer and the players – that they think in the same way, that we want to show passion, that we want to chase, that we want to play with a lot of hunger. And if that’s the case [with] the fans, the gaffer and the players, then everything will be fine.”
While fans will be rightly be desperate for information about who will be taking on the big job of replacing Klopp, the man and his crew are still around, still in charge, and still pushing forward to as, Lijnders calls it, ‘the last dance.’