Liverpool do play a different brand of football to last season. That much has been visible on the eye, but has also been explained by our assistant manager Pep Lijnders in a revealing interview.
The Dutchman has explained how during the summer, the coaching staff, including Jurgen Klopp, decided on a more disciplined style that used smarter movement and a less reckless attacking approach.
It’s resulted in Liverpool having an outstanding defensive record – and despite scoring less goals than last season, we’re fighting for the Premier League title with Manchester City and are in the quarterfinals of the Champions League – favourites to progress v FC Porto.
“We decided in pre-season we have to work to have a better movement of the ball and the positioning of our midfielders, plus Roberto [Firmino], Sadio and Mo [Salah],” Lijnders told to The Times.
“Focus on speedy attacks and you go fast towards being a successful team, but you have to focus on really good organisation.
“If you want good counter-pressing then having shorter distances between the players is important. So, if you lose the ball to the opposition, you can give a very intense moment to win the ball back.
“If the distances in midfield are quite wide, then it is difficult to put pressure on [when you have lost the ball].
“If the distances are close [when you are attacking] and they play with each other, then the way the ball moves can create surprise and space for when the opposition reacts.
“Play inside to create wing attacks, wing attacks are a byproduct of good inside play.
“The first way of defending is how you move the ball when you have it. [The key is] how quick you do that so that you make the opposition passive.
“If they don’t have the ball, they don’t attack, so you don’t have to defend.”
We could listen to Lijnders talk tactics all day long!
The man knows his stuff and it’s no surprise that Klopp rates him so highly.
Lijnders left Liverpool for a period in 2018, but Liverpool brought him back on board at the first opportunity.
We think one day he’ll get a big job in Europe and do something very impressive, but for now – we’re very happy he’s helping Klopp at Melwood on a day to day basis.
His role shouldn’t be underestimated.