Pepijn Lijnders describes the shared sense of ambition and passion that has been fostered by Jürgen Klopp at Melwood as a "search for perfection knowing it doesn't exist."
European Cup winners last June and world champions in December, Liverpool established a 25-point lead at the Premier League summit before the current suspension due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Klopp’s transformation of the club is underpinned by a culture of continual improvement, explains Lijnders, with the work of each department around him coming together to make critical gains for the team on the pitch.
“We try to support Jürgen in the best way possible,” Lijnders, assistant manager for the Reds alongside Peter Krawietz, told Liverpoolfc.com recently.
“I’m responsible for the training process, Peter is really responsible for the analysis of the opposition and analysis of our team. All the ideas Jürgen has and the way he wants to set up and be competitive in each game, we just try to support him in the best way possible.
“Everybody knows you are a product of your own environment – the better people you have around you, the easier things become. I am blessed, of course, that Jürgen has this trust and gives me the freedom.
“We are blessed [with] our group – and you speak about Peter, me and the gaffer but there are so many people. The departments, how they evolved over the last four or five years, they all search for perfection knowing that perfection doesn’t exist. See how our pitches are prepared each day by our ground staff… these things make us consistent.
“Each department is searching for and has the ambition and passion. I believe that only comes first from your leader and second, that it’s trust and everybody wants to give one per cent more, so the team is better prepared for the next game.
“I think we made big, big steps in this. A big compliment for each department.”
Lijnders became part of Klopp’s backroom team upon the German’s arrival in October 2015, having stepped up to Melwood duties the preceding summer.
The set-up has since evolved consistently, with Jack Robinson bolstering John Achterberg’s goalkeeping staff and Vitor Matos arriving as elite development coach – in addition to the departments dedicated to analysis, fitness, rehabilitation, nutrition and more.
“My confidence is big enough that I can really let people grow next to me. I need experts around,” said Klopp of his leadership approach last year. “Have strong people around you with better knowledge in different departments than yourself.”
Lijnders notes: “He is very intelligent. His brain works differently to many others, that’s for sure. Each day he surprises me – and we worked how long together? Four-and-a-half or five years. He changes perception in five minutes.
“We really feel that we are a team. We prepare together, we plan together, we act together, we coach together. It’s what I say constantly: three brains can do much more than one brain, if the three brains think in a common way and have the same messages and same passion and same dedication.
“That’s the secret if you are working with a team, that everybody wants the same and understands the way we want to play and the way we want to develop on the training pitch.”