Jurgen Klopp may be the “main man,” but assistant manager Pepijn Lijnders is a “huge reason” for Liverpool’s success in recent years, believes ex-Red Conor Masterson.
Lijnders has been a revelation since joining the club in 2014, initially working as under-16s coach before becoming elite development coach and, after a brief spell in charge of NEC Nijmegen, now Klopp’s right-hand man.
The Dutchman now takes media duties ahead of Liverpool’s cup games, and is the mastermind behind the majority of training sessions for the first team.
He is an impressive figure, one who has been tipped to take over from Klopp in the future, with the way he approaches football enthralling, as a very modern coach attuned with the history of the game.
“And I’ve had some good ones,” the centre-back, who left for QPR in 2018, continued.
“Pep’s love for the game is immense. He got the best out of me.
“Every day I’d be going into training thinking ‘this is gonna be good’. He put on sick sessions!
“Obviously Klopp is the main man at Liverpool, but Pep is a huge reason why they have reached the levels they’ve reached. What a coach, man.”
Working under Lijnders was quite the introduction to life at Liverpool, with Masterson joining as a 16-year-old in 2014, arriving at a similar time as the Dutchman.
Lijnders was promoted after a year in the role, and still played a part in the youngster’s development, including him as part of his Talent Group which regularly trained at Melwood.
In an interesting interview with Goal’s Neil Jones, Masterson reflected on his three games as part of the Reds’ matchday squad, including the 3-0 victory over Man City in the Champions League in 2018.
“It’s the best night of my life,” he insisted.
“Obviously I hope to have a long and successful career, but I’ll be surprised if I ever experience anything like that again. It was unbelievable.”
Now at QPR and, at 22, working his way into regular contention for a starting spot, Masterson is moving on with his career, and he would no doubt attribute much of his progress to Lijnders.
Liverpool certainly owe a debt of gratitude to his work, too, as Klopp’s assistant should really be hailed as more than just an assistant.