Thursday, May 30, 2024

Pepijn Lijnders press conference

Pepijn Lijnders discussed a wide range of topics when he attended a press conference on Tuesday afternoon.

The Liverpool assistant manager spoke to the media at the AXA Training Centre on the eve of the team’s Carabao Cup fourth-round tie away at AFC Bournemouth.

Read on for a summary of what the Dutchman had to say…

On Luis Diaz…

You guys know Lucho, he’s an incredible player, everybody can see that. We knew this when we got him but then the whole of England could see it and the whole of the world saw it. But then you see him here in the building and he’s the guy who always smiles, he’s the guy who has with everybody an unbelievable relationship. So we really care about him. The only thing now for us is we try to support him as much as we can. A lot of things are out of our hands – what’s completely normal. We hope that the authorities there that they can find his dad and that everything is good. We just pray for that.

It’s not for me sitting here and tell the world what we are doing for Lucho. As long as we know that we are doing the right thing for him because he’s one of us. I think the team responded after our goal [versus Nottingham Forest] brilliantly with putting the shirt up for him. I think that was a nice gesture. That he just knows that we are here for him. And then how the stadium reacted, that was special as well. The whole fan base is behind us as well. Our motto is ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’. Let’s just pray and hope that everything is quickly to a good situation again.

On the squad’s strength…

It’s the quality of the players. Our squad is full of potential, our squad is full of desire. You saw an example in the Toulouse game, Europa League, when we changed eight times, we kept our identity, we still were in the opposition half, we had the ball, we were constantly creating. And with eight changes, that says a lot. I’m really happy with that. But that comes up from the training, from the meetings, from the video, from the quality of the players – but especially their hunger, their desire. They are all in a moment where they want to achieve. I don’t mind that they are saying it [competing on four fronts], I don’t mind that they show their dreams. If you compete for Liverpool, that should be always there, no? We are really happy with them.

On the calibre of young players that are coming through the Academy…

I think what the biggest clubs in the world have in common is this one-club mentality. Where from a very young age, it’s the same style. From a very young age, the coaches have just one target – to teach them the values of the club. Alex Inglethorpe is more than 10 years in the job as Academy director – consistency. Jürgen Klopp is here for eight years. Vitor Matos, who is the bridge between the Academy and the first team and who continues with the values and gives everything of his DNA, of his way of seeing things to the young players. We have Barry Lewtas, who was here as a young coach and now as our U21 manager. All these guys – me included – we really want this pathway to be open because we feel that only then you create a healthy club, a club who is sustainable and a club who has culture.

For example, Curtis [Jones] came in and Millie [James Milner], Adam Lallana, Gini [Wijnaldum], they were on top of him, they were speaking every time when he did something wrong – but they cared. And then now you see Calum [Scanlon] coming in or Luke [Chambers] and Curtis is speaking in the same way to them how Millie was. And then you create culture. That was a dream and we knew always it was possible. But in the end we are here and all these guys I just mentioned, they believe and they want. You need a lot of guts. But we believe in this process. That’s one of the reasons why we all love working for this club. Because this club is much bigger than just a ‘first team’. This club is almost like an institution, in my opinion.

On it being three years since the senior team moved to the AXA Training Centre and whether that’s helped with the pathway for youngsters…

At least it showed ambition. It showed like we are going to create something what is for the whole club. We create something where we bring them together. I still believe that buildings are buildings and rocks are rocks and chairs are chairs. It’s about the people who sit in it, it’s about the people who control the process, who deal with the process. The people I just mentioned, with the consistency we have, with the game idea we have over a long time, that creates that there’s consistency and that there’s a pathway. The building is brilliant. It’s something we always wanted. It was not easy to leave Melwood behind because of the history and the feeling it got. Time by time, we are creating something here. A one-club mentality deserves that you are together. I have to say I’m happy that the women’s team are now at Melwood, that at least somebody of Liverpool is there. It helped, for sure, but I still believe that the people I just mentioned, the people who make the decisions and guide young players, make the difference.

On Harvey Elliott competing for a place and his form so far this season…

I said to Harvey probably two or three weeks ago, I never have seen him this good in training. He was not playing at that time and that’s why I spoke with him, because it shows a lot the consistency [when] he is coming on or starting, he is always there. I think he is really consistent in his performance. That’s something we wanted for him as well, and that’s what he feels. He acts more like a senior than you think, similar with Curtis – they are such a long time already with us. And he has this character as well to be like that. He makes an impact, he is this player who has to make [an] impact. He is the player between the lines and on the outside when he plays there who has to create, who has to play the final pass, who needs to arrive and score. He is a really, really good player, we all see this.

On the confidence within the squad to challenge across multiple competitions, expressed by the likes of Dominik Szoboszlai and Diogo Jota recently…

What’s not to like about Dom, hey? He just says it as well. It’s also [a] Scouse mentality as well, I think, to say [it]. They have dreams, what’s me to stop believing that they have dreams, that they believe that we achieve and we achieve the impossible. Because that’s what they are saying. What I like, and I think this is the most important, is that with Dom you see it on the pitch what he does, he plays this last pass – for example, this week with the goalie and Mo [Salah] scores the third goal [against Forest]. For me it’s about you can speak and you can say, but you have to do, you have to show, and you have to show not just [in] the game, you have to show on the training pitch. And not just on the training pitch, in Kirkby here – on the windy day, on the rainy day, when it’s freezing. So far it’s not November, December, January or February, so he doesn’t know yet! But what I see now is that Dom has all of this. Jota, we can say a lot. He is the same as Darwin [Nunez], he is one who creates by himself five or six chances a game. What I like about Jota as well, he scores a lot of goals but it’s a lot of times the first one, and that’s the hardest one to score. That says a lot about Jots.

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