Tim is a specialist football writer having contributed to FourFourTwo in print and online, Football365 and a number of other popular sites.
Liverpool FC Collective is the Key to Trophies
Liverpool’s identity has taken a bit of a pounding in recent weeks, with a number of negative results and performances calling into question the hunger and motivation of the team that almost carried all before them last season. Well, what do you know. The assistant manager writes a book on the legendary mentality and training practices that have driven Jurgen Klopp’s troops to silverware - and a lot of very near misses - and then they get outrun by almost all their opponents. A collective hangover, perhaps?
Given that Klopp is a larger-than-life character with a sensible approach to football’s real place in the world, he has no qualms about his right-hand man putting out the Reds’ training secrets over the course of the 2021/22 season. As Carlo Ancelotti said after Real Madrid’s victory in the Champions League final, Liverpool’s game plan is easier to decipher than most. The problem for mortal teams is that they do not possess the tools to cope with it. As Lijnders states, Liverpool’s identity is their intensity. At one point, the Dutchman says that their "training is their transfer", a good thing given that the Reds generally don't recruit in huge numbers. It’s not new players that maketh the team, it’s the collective that makes them what they are.
Intensity is a Way of Life at Liverpool FC
Lijnders is a very affable guy, a person who takes the reader on a journey that is beaming and brimming with vigour. Anyone who has watched from the sidelines will know that it he is the man who tends to jump highest in the air after a goal while his immediate boss falls back on the fist pump routine. The way that Liverpool train and their application to the process, treating each game as 'a final', is an example of how detailed the process is.
The book was the result of a joint project between Lijnders and Liverpool’s head of editorial content, James Carroll. There has been no retrospective rewriting of feelings or history after the rather deflating second half of the quadruple mission when Manchester City pipped them to the title and Thibaut Courtois became Mr Incredible in Paris for 90 minutes. What was written at the time is what you get and, even in the big disappointments, there’s a sense that Liverpool will succeed and fail by playing their way. It’s non-negotiable otherwise something would be left out there.
68 Games in the 2021/22 Liverpool Season
The Reds played 68 'finals' last season, every conceivable game that they could possibly have embarked on in a full campaign. While eyebrows have been raised by ex-players (Didi Hamaan for one) in respect of how someone still working at the club can write so openly, there is real value and content over and above the normal football platitudes here. The Liverpool way, the family, and the bonds are a strong chain and not some superficial mantra.
There’ s a genuine warmth and transparency conveyed about life in the deep sea pool of elite football. When Lijnders is disconnected from Klopp during Covid, taking on managerial duties himself against Chelsea, it's no surprise he thrives. It is also refreshing to read about his nerves before big games.
Klopp has said that "being hard to play against and hard to beat has been at the heart of everything we have done over the last few seasons."
Given that he turned doubters into believers, you can see what a driven and sustainable culture the German has created. Intensity relates the personal and professional sense of identity that thrives beyond the result. It's a way of life that needs the dual fuel of Klopp and Lijnders and the afterburners of the very elite team off the pitch to sustain it.