In Pepijn Lijnders’ latest diary entry from Liverpool’s pre-season training base in Austria, the assistant manager reflects on the work that’s been done on the pitches in the opening days of the camp.
We’re three days into our pre-season camp in Salzburg and even in these first days, you can feel that our drive in each training session is knowing that the stadium will be full when the season begins.
I had this thought: Ibrahima Konate will experience a full Anfield soon!
Highlights of the camp so far?
Well, Joel, Virgil and Joe look really good and they are adjusting well to the team training. It’s just great that they are back in.
Just now, I was walking off the pitch after this morning’s session thinking the quality and speed of passes were outstanding. Virgil found Milner one time with a ‘surprise’ pass through the centre in behind… we stopped the exercise there! Always ending on a high! Haha, I love it!
At the moment there are just options everywhere. This is, for me, the password for offensive football: options everywhere. They now just have to gain the confidence to feel that the last step is possible to win the ball back.
We have time for this, step by step doing the right things is how Schlumbi [Andreas Schlumberger] says it. Virgil and Joe call him ‘the professor’!
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A few young players are showing they are ready to fight for their chance. In the camp, it’s noisy, you feel it, the ambience is just good. The food of Mona’s team is outstanding; it’s for sure the best restaurant in Austria in this moment, which is really important for the players.
I get asked questions about pre-season fitness so many times. We are using the pre-season first and foremost to change the eyes and the mind of the players. What do we want and how do we want it? It all comes from a “We want the ball” mentality. You play football with the head because the ball goes quicker than the legs.
With changing the eyes and the mind, we are changing the physique of the player. Their bodies are step by step adapting to our way of play. Our intensity. This only develops with time, so we start by giving them small doses of our way of football, with recovery moments in between, so we can always stimulate the fast fibres and the fast decisions.
With time we increase the volume of this intensity, so in the end we can GO and GO again… and if needed GO again! Andreas [Kornmayer] gives on top of this some doses of extra volume. This afternoon, it willl be time for some 1,000-metre runs. The players love it… well, that’s a lie, but to create ‘mentality’ going forward, these sessions are so, so important. It’s about shutting down this ugly voice in your head that you will quit.
Secondly, we use the pre-season to create a mentality that the next game is the final. It starts now. Each exercise is based on the better you play the more you play; the better you counter-press the more you play; the better you defend the more counter-attacks you will play. Vitor or Pete are giving the amount of seconds they have to score, always with a full box and this means a lot of running! The players have to understand that you don’t prepare finals in the week leading up to them, but in the 51 weeks before that. It’s in these moments you make a difference.
We should always continue the process: the process of learning, the process of preparation. Never stop, no matter what age you are, because you are never old enough to learn new things. When your best players commit to training with all they have, wow, then you’re halfway there. That’s happening with Mo, Sadio and Milner. The best ones have to set the standards!
These concentration levels are something we search for in each training session at Liverpool FC: being in the session with your whole body, triggering the competitive mentality of Sadio and Mo. If we reach these moments, I’m the happiest guy in the world because it means development, it means learning, it means preparation for the big occasions. It means a lot of ‘wow’ moments. It’s the most difficult level of training to reach. Today, five players tried to catch the ball from Sadio, with Milner finishing this moment with a block tackle. Sadio found his way out with a lot of technique and determination – that’s a moment to stop training, haha!
As well as this, a pre-season is to search for talent in our Academy. It’s a great moment for the young players to showcase their passion for the ball and the pitch and their ambition to Jürgen. You see immediately the ones who have this extra edge, this extra football smartness. Why do they have that? Because the best educational academy in the world – the street. It takes a village to raise a child, they say. I say, it takes a street to create a real player.
Vitor Matos is unbelievable with the young boys. How he helps in the sessions is top; he brings intelligence into each session. You’re only as good as the people around you.
Riding into day three of pre-season 😁🚴 https://t.co/2hdYh6q7ON— LFC (Liverpool FC) 14th Jul 11:30
It’s great to hear that since we’ve arrived here, we’ve had lots of fans consuming the content produced by our media team out here with us. This, for me, is the ultimate compliment – hearing what’s happening with the fanbase.
Anfield celebrates a proper counter-pressing situation like other stadiums celebrate scoring a goal. Some stadiums don’t accept less and we have one of them.
That’s why I believe so much in the ‘holy trinity’ – fans, squad and manager, together reaching one belief.
Anyway, we will be back soon with more for you to enjoy. Trent will join our group tomorrow. We need more Scouse mentality and cheekiness in our sessions and we can’t wait to see him playing these crazy passes again!
Keep following us through the site, the social media and the club channel for more content in the coming days.
Speak to you again soon,
Pep Lijnders was speaking to James Carroll