Pepijn Lijnders insists he and his fellow coaches can already see Jürgen Klopp’s methods taking hold at Liverpool despite the ‘disappointing’ nature of the 1-1 draw with Southampton.
The Reds narrowly missed out on their first win since the German coach took charge as Sadio Mane bagged an 86th-minute equaliser for Ronald Koeman’s team at Anfield on Sunday.
Klopp has now overseen three draws in as many games since taking the helm, but Lijnders is taking the positives from the frustration felt by the squad after the latest stalemate.
Reflecting on the result, the Dutch coach told Liverpoolfc.com: “[It’s] disappointing in the sense that Jürgen came in with a clear idea of how we wants to play and you see in the sessions and the games that it starts evolving, that the team starts developing to a common idea.
“Then you see that they are implementing the ideas, that they are trying to become more efficient and working together in a certain way.
“And then you get the goal! It’s in the perfect moment, close to the end, and you think that finally Anfield [will see a win].
“The way the stadium reacted it felt like a relief of course because we know that we have drawn a lot of games, we know that we are the team who always brought the ball more into the opposition half, that we were the team who were playing, the team who could control the game.
“So then it’s disappointing that you get a goal against and especially from a cross coming in or a set-piece – that would probably be the only way for them to score in the last 15 minutes.
“That’s disappointing, everybody feels that, and that’s a good thing by the way because it shows that we feel and know that we are good and the better team.”
While victory eluded the Reds at the weekend, the first-team development coach is adamant that progress under the new manager is already evident – to the trained eye at least.
He spoke of three key elements that Klopp is trying to impress upon his players – attacking balance, counter-pressing and winning second balls – and how they were clearly put into action against Southampton.
“If you have a very good defensive organisation, where everybody knows exactly how to move and how to cover each other, that gives confidence and flexibility when you have the ball,” he said of the team’s balance.
“One [aspect] that [Jürgen] tries to implement and that you see is the counter-pressing – so stopping the counter – it’s a very important part.
“But before that, I think the main goal that’s difficult to see in the stadium, difficult to see for the fans, is how we move when we have the ball when we are attacking.
“The fact that we are organised [and have] what we call attacking balance [means] that we are ready whenever we lose the ball.
“We can win it back as quickly as possible and we can apply aggressive pressure because we have enough bodies around it when we are playing.
“It’s difficult to see in the stadium but our balance is getting better and better in terms of when we are attacking.
“So we are thinking defensively when we are attacking and the other way around as well of course because of the counter-press.”
Discussing the concept of the ‘counter-press’, which became a trademark of the new boss’ Borussia Dortmund side, Lijnders added: “The moment we lose it we apply aggressive pressure, you see that, everybody wants that.
“That’s a good thing because it makes sure we stay high up the pitch and that’s where we want to play.
“[Fans want to see] Liverpool dominating the game in the opponent’s half, not defending the goal but defending our mid-line.”
And finally, on the need to battle when the longer ball comes in as a result of the press, he said: “The third aspect that you see is [opposition teams] play longer.
“We apply a press in the 4-3-2-1 system and, because it’s so aggressive, the fighting for the second ball is crucial in that part.”
As Lijnders explains, should these three aspects combine better over time, then the team will regularly be able to play their football where the manager wants it – much higher up the pitch.
“So they are the three ideas I think you see better and better and it gives us more confidence in terms of how we approach the game and how we feel in the game,” he enthused.
“One pressing, two getting close, [three] try to win it back, then we can stay high. That’s what you see, it becomes easier and easier to stay high up the pitch, it becomes easier when we win the ball to play it out to find a free player.
“Loads of things to improve of course, as always, but if you ask me the things [Jürgen] is trying to implement in the sessions I think you can see those three things really well.”
(Source – Liverpoolfc.com)