Pep Lijnders on return to action, Man City test and season aims

Press conferencePep Lijnders on return to action, Man City test and season aims



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Pepijn Lijnders discussed a variety of topics during Wednesday's pre-match press conference.

Liverpool's season resumes with a Carabao Cup fourth-round tie versus Manchester City on Thursday evening.

Ahead of the trip to Etihad Stadium, assistant manager Lijnders answered journalists' questions at the AXA Training Centre.

Read a summary below.

On how ready the squad is to return to action following the World Cup…

It's new for us, a World Cup in the middle of the season. The quality [in the World Cup] was very good I think, it was a winner in my opinion. But it gave us a chance to refresh, not just refresh the players because everybody got some time off, the ones who played in the World Cup but also of course the ones who were not involved. It gave time to refresh our principles on the pitch, we don't have time in the season to really train – you have three days and the boys are recovering. You have to be spot on in your coaching, you have to be spot on in the type of session you put on, there is no margin, you have to be right. It's not that you can give them real problems to solve with football because the next day you are playing but that is possible in this kind of setting: give them real problems to solve and then we can correct them, the ones who don't move in a coordinated way or play to our principles. So that was a benefit for sure.

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The ones who played, they have rhythm but they needed some time off as well because we all know playing for your country is the most honourable thing, I think, there is in the football world so it's nice for them to be able to do that. They made a lot of people proud, the ones who played, so that was good and they come back with a strong feeling. The ones who are already back, like Hendo, Trent, Ali and Fabinho, you see that they take a good energy and good tempo and confidence with them and that's important. But we had a really good training camp in Dubai; the togetherness, the hunger, the spirit, the passion, the fight. You see that this team wants to be 100 per cent motivated, and we have to be 100 per cent motivated for City – not only City, but especially for the second phase of the season.

On Liverpool and City often fielding changed line-ups in the Carabao Cup and whether this tie will be any different…

First, age is just a number for us, that's really important to understand. We don't look to experience in that way, let me say it like this, and if there is one thing this World Cup proved as well it is that you need your whole squad. The teams who became successful needed the whole squad. To put this in context, when we play League Cup it's always in a very busy schedule. We play Champions League, Premier League and we know we have to be top to win these games in these competitions. We cannot rest players, then the League Cup comes in a timeframe where we play every three days and the boys have to be at the top to win games so it's a perfect moment to use the full squad.

Now it's a different situation, of course, because we have a long time off, the boys come back from the World Cup and that's why I started with 'age is just a number'. We still believe that we need to give our talents chances, not just against lower-league opposition but also against Premier League opposition because we believe in them and we want them to have challenges and difficulties and maybe struggle a little bit, because only then you are improving the players. My job, Jürgen's job, the club's job, is in the first place to improve our players and improve our team and that's what we always try to do.

On Liverpool's meetings with City always being massive matches…

I think it's never a boring game against them. It was never a boring game, both teams will put on a great show, that's for sure.

We know [that] against them we need to be 100 per cent concentrated on the things we have to do. We need to be really difficult to play against, we need to be really good and efficient in the moments we have the ball. We will try and they will try. It's a strange situation coming back from a World Cup and having this fixture straight [away]. It's [the same] for them and for us, but what I said, we will try and the team already proved in the past whoever [our] players are on the pitch, that they will make it a top show.

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On whether Ben Doak will be involved in Thursday's FA Youth Cup tie or at City...

Very smart question because if I say he is there, he will not be with us. I get that. I love it anyway, cheeky! Yesterday I walked off the pitch, we trained, the session was insane – really cool. And I walk off the pitch with Jürgen and he does a whisper and he just says next to me, 'Wow, Stefan and Bobby Clark, they play so mature. They play as [if] they are 25.' And I say immediately, 'Ben Doak, can you imagine [if] he was a signing? If [he] would do this, what he is doing in this session?'

You all see, he's very quick, but if you are very quick and technical, that makes a really dangerous player and he learns as well really quick. That's really nice to see because sometimes you can be really quick [and] really good with your feet but if you don't learn [with the] team... what I just said, you need good players, but the collective in the end makes you successful so that has to work. But he adapts really quickly to our style and we are just really happy with [the] three young signings.

Then I have to make a compliment to Matt Newbury because he is our Academy scout and he brings these players in. Nobody hears about them before and it's not announced as a big signing like everybody [else]. But the boys he brings in, it's not easy because the boy leaves Celtic, goes to a different part [of the world], Liverpool. Or Stefan, who goes from Celta Vigo to here, they leave their country and leave their family. They come really young in our Academy, so for the next ones to come hopefully that helps as well that we want to give these boys chances and Ben is just... I like that combination of speed, mentality and technique [and] he has all three.

On whether Thursday's game could 'set the tone' for the remainder of Liverpool's season...

As I said, we went to Dubai and we could refresh our ideas, refresh our principles, [and] we could really train. We see it just as a new start, how we should see it. The boys are hungry, they are passionate, they want to show this on the pitch. You see that in each session and that's what we have to do. We know that we have to be committed to our way. We know against City there will be moments where you have to be really together, where it will not be easy. All of our boys have these experiences, so that is really good. As I said before, it will be a top show, for sure.

On what Liverpool's training sessions focused on during their Dubai camp...

Moving together as a team, so when you lose the ball you are always there. Being aggressive in the moment we don't have the ball, where we want to be different from all the other teams, especially higher up the pitch. The confidence and conviction in our build-up, that we move together and we can bring the ball out and the flexibility in this. These things that make us, us. Sometimes, when things don't go well, you focus especially on these things and maybe you lose some of the core strengths in these moments, but you have to focus on the other ones. We just look forward to playing football. If you see the World Cup, we want to play as well. To go back to the last question, if it is City or somebody else, we just want to play, we want to show who we are and most importantly win football games. That is what we will try to do tomorrow.

On whether the break 'came at a good time' for Liverpool...

I don't know, I think we were on our way back towards the end, to be honest. Sometimes, I felt that for sure that when we got the momentum it would be the World Cup! You have to take life how it is. A lot of things you just cannot change, so you have to make the best out of what you can change and that's what we always try to do. We used this time, which was really helpful, not just to train the lungs, the legs and the heart, but also to work the eyes and the mind with video meetings. We know we can still be successful because there are many things to play for, so that's what we are going to try.

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This article has been automatically translated and, while all reasonable efforts have been made to ensure accuracy, some errors in translation are possible. Please refer to the original English-language version of the article for the official version.