Excerpt'Jürgen threw the letter in the bin... I felt he really respected me'
Pepijn Lijnders shares a special Jürgen Klopp story that changed his life and professional career in his new book 'Intensity'.
Following Klopp’s appointment as Liverpool manager in October 2015, Lijnders retained his role in the first-team coaching staff and has since become assistant manager during a reign that has seen the Reds win multiple major honours.
Intensity, which is released on Thursday August 4, tells the real-time tale of the incredible 2021-22 campaign as Liverpool lifted two trophies, narrowly missed out on two more, and played 63 competitive matches.
In one reflection during the book, Lijnders details how a letter to Klopp – and his reaction to it – shaped their close and productive relationship.
Read the extract below and pre-order Intensity ahead of its release on Thursday here.
I was reminded of the first time I felt that Jürgen really respected me. It was when he came with a letter to my desk, about six years ago – probably two months after he’d arrived.
He asked me to read it because he didn’t understand it, so I started reading and I told him it was from a coach who said he wanted to work with him, to help him on the pitch and assist. “So basically he wants your job?” the boss said. “Basically, yes.” He took the letter, tore it apart, threw it in the bin in front of me and turned around and walked away without saying anything.
Of course, he understood the letter. He didn’t need to do that. But that was the moment I knew we would work together for a long time and I would help him with all I’ve got to become the most successful manager he could be at Liverpool Football Club. I think you can see online, I did an interview just after this, explaining Jürgen’s philosophy through my own eyes at the club. I had this idea before this moment, but it was a feeling he created that hasn’t gone away even to this day: trust.
Do we disagree? Of course. Does he want me to leave his office sometimes? Of course. But I believe and feel I can count with – and on – him. He is so much more than a colleague to me.
To explain our early relationship, this is a good example: wherever I’d worked before, I had my playing ideas on five big flip-charts printed out. The middle one was my game idea explained with core principles over eight steps; the other four were the principles for when we have the ball, when they have the ball, counter-pressing and individual principles in and out of possession. It covered a big part of the wall of the old coaching office. It was my life on there.
When Jürgen first came into the club, after a week or so he asked who they belonged to. “They are my way of believing, gaffer,” I told him, “you want me to take them off?” He replied: “No, I like them – keep them there.”
Wow! Every year I would add new ideas, or tweak the existing ones. Stability in coaching is what creates consistency… and aren’t we coaches all searching for consistency?
Read our first excerpt from Intensity, on the scouting of Luis Diaz, here and return to Liverpoolfc.com on Wednesday for part three as Lijnders recounts the day Klopp and his coaches signed extended contracts.