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LONDON, ENGLAND - Wednesday, January 24, 2024: Liverpool's first-team development coach Pepijn Lijnders before the Football League Cup Semi-Final 2nd Leg match between Fulham FC and Liverpool FC at Craven Cottage. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Pepijn Lijnders reveals contact with FSG over Liverpool manager job

With him now confirmed to be taking the manager’s job at RB Salzburg, Pepijn Lijnders has revealed how the Liverpool owners “really considered” him to replace Jurgen Klopp.

For a long time, there was a general view that once Klopp left Liverpool, his assistant manager, Lijnders, would be a good candidate to take over.

It came as somewhat of a surprise then, when his name was immediately ruled out after Klopp announced his departure in January. Instead, fellow Dutchman Arne Slot landed the role.

Speaking to the Athletic, Lijnders has now revealed that he had been “really considered” for the job by Liverpool’s owners.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, April 27, 2024: Liverpool's Jürgen Klopp (R) and first-team development coach Pepijn Lijnders during the FA Premier League match between West Ham United FC and Liverpool FC at the London Stadium. The game ended in a 2-2 draw. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The coach recalled how FSG President Mike Gordon phoned him in early February to say: “’Pep, we really considered you, but I think it’s fair for you that we don’t put you after Jurgen’.”

The coach also spoke of how Klopp had asked him about whether he intended to take the reins at Liverpool after the German’s exit.

“Jurgen asked me about it a few times in recent years. The season before I got the question from Jurgen and two times this season, but each time I said ‘no’,” added the 41-year-old.

“The first reason was I really felt that this was a project of ‘us’. Jurgen led it and I really felt we should end this project together. Secondly, I’ve been at Liverpool for nearly 10 years.

“I was ready for a new experience: new people, my own staff, my own players. I gave everything I had to this playing group. I think the team would continue with the same ways if I stayed here.

“I feel that the team as well needs something new. But I never knew 100 percent what my response would be if Mike Gordon called me. You say ‘no, no, no’ but then…”

Lijnders has had a brief foray into management before, at NEC Nijmegen in 2018, but he lasted just half a season before returning to Merseyside.

He goes to Salzburg now with more experience and clearer principles as to how he wants his teams to play.

In Austria, he will take over a club in a healthy state, but one that has just finished second after winning the title for the previous 10 consecutive years.