REVEALED: The man Liverpool believe will create decades of dominance
You can’t really underestimate the impact Jurgen Klopp has made since taking over at Liverpool.
The club was in dire straits towards the end of Brendan Rodgers’ tenure, loitering in mid-table after losing two of their best players in Luis Suarez and Raheem Sterling in successive years and their captain Steven Gerrard to the MLS.
The Reds have since reached two cup finals under Klopp’s stewardship and this season have emerged as Chelsea’s main rivals for the title.
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But Klopp will be the first to tell you that the turnaround has been far from a one-man job.
The former Borussia Dortmund manager has carefully assembled a coaching team that he believes will create a lasting legacy at Anfield.
And while number two Zjelko Buvac is known as ‘The Brain’, it is his first-team development coach Pepijn Lijnders, nicknamed ‘The Bridge’, who is making the most waves.
Lijnders is held in high acclaim after being headhunted from PSV and Porto’s youth departments and is sort of a coaching ‘wonderkid’ at the age of just 33.
While Klopp takes an active role in the club’s youth development, Lijnders acts as the link between the first team and the academy.
In an interview with The Times, he revealed every Tuesday as many as 12 academy players from under-15 to under-19 are invited by the Dutch coach to join first-team training.
The likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ben Woodburn and Ovie Ejaria, who have all made their senior debuts this season, have all benefited from the ‘Talent Group’ scheme.
He said: “Personal relationships are important. We believe that 30% is tactics and 70% is feeling for each other and the staff.
“It’s important Jurgen knows players from a young age. If he can’t be in Kirkby, we bring the best to him.
“And [on visits] they watch Adam Lallana prepare, Sadio Mane’s little movements to find space, they learn the unwritten rules of Melwood, all the little things.
“There’s a saying that talent needs models, it doesn’t need criticism. I really believe in that.”
So while Klopp’s unique charisma has lifted spirits dramatically, it takes a cool head like Lijnders to act as the glue to piece it all together.
If they can get it right, the Reds might well be back competing regularly in the upper echelons of the game for years to come.
VIDEO: Adam Lallana is quickly becoming Klopp’s most important player