While Liverpool are struggling for form and looking for ideas, attention has been turned to Jurgen Klopp’s assistant Pepein Linders. But is the criticism fair?
Everything has become a little pear-shaped, and no one knows where to turn.
When Liverpool have faced difficulties under Jurgen Klopp in the past, mitigation has usually been at arm’s length.
In this case, we can only scratch our heads and quarrel among ourselves.
The manager lifted Liverpool from the abyss back to the top, hearing the melody of the sleeping giant and bringing back the good times at Anfield.
He has immortalized himself in the club, a god-like figure among the fans, so when sticky spots appear, it can be difficult for the fans to figure out.
Putting the blame on the door of the messiah seems like an act of betrayal.
Where does that leave us then? As football fans, our brains are not designed to just accept a surge without explanation.
There should at least be room for accusations, excuses, scapegoats, or a mixture of all three.
Football managers are the figureheads of football clubs, those who take the blame in difficult moments and face the media before and after games.
When this person, quite justifiably in this case, appropriated the credit that Klopp now possesses, attention can sometimes be turned to something else.
At the moment, this light seems to be directed at Pepein Linders.
Linders becoming a public figure
The Liverpool assistant coach — the title he shares with Peter Kravitz — has gradually become more involved in the public aspects of his role lately.
The Dutchman takes over the media duties for the League Cup press matches and takes the hot seat himself in those cases when Klopp was serving bans and fighting coronavirus.
Then, of course, this book.
Released in August, Intensity: Inside Liverpool FC was initially received positively by fans, but as the form dropped, it was increasingly used as a way to emphasize that he apparently “craves attention” – something that seems extremely flawed and very conspiratorial.
There are those who believe that the book reveals tactical secrets that contributed to success, while others simply do not believe that we should hear so much noise from the background presence.
Nevertheless, Linders is still at the top of the bookmakers’ list of favorites to replace Klopp as the next permanent manager, which fans often commented and emphasized a year ago, and his press conferences were considered refreshing and energetic. How times change. Football fans can be fickle.
This potentially gives some insight into the origin of the suggestion that his influence at Liverpool is increasing, a theory that many believe lies at the heart of the team’s current adversity.
If the ultimate goal is for the student to eventually succeed the master, it may be natural to see some skepticism associated with this increased responsibility.
It is clear that Klopp trusts Linders unconditionally, but at present this trust does not extend to part of the fan base.
The book seems like a good place to start. What should have been a diary of the 2021/22 season documenting the role of each member of the first team in bringing Liverpool to the brink of history has instead ignited a fire and generated hypotheses and narratives.
Of all the possible positions, the assumption that the book played some role in the fall of Liverpool seems the most irrational.
The idea that the club will sign a draft revealing any confidential details that may be useful to the opposition parties is at least far-fetched.
Some complained that writing the book distracted attention from preparing for the 2022/23 season, not taking into account the fact that it was a writing process throughout the season, and not a summer job.
I dare say that some of the complaints came from those who had not yet read a single page.
There are a lot of things that can be annoying at the moment — the book probably shouldn’t be one of them.
On Wednesday, an article was published by the Telegraph’s chief football columnist, which asserted some of the decisions made by Linders since he returned after a short stint as manager of NEC Nijmegen in 2018, and highlighted the consequences of granting such powers to No. 2. .
As expected, this added fuel to the fire.
The article claimed that Klopp’s right-hand man often leads training sessions, and although some may associate this with the inevitable transition to management, the reality is that this is literally his job.
Assistant managers conduct sessions. This is nothing new for Linders or Liverpool.
You can go back to Bob Paisley when he was under Bill Shankly, and you’ll also have a hard time finding someone who has done more sessions at Melwood than Ronnie Moran.
Not only Linders takes an active part in training, but also Kravitz, Andreas Kornmeier, Vitor Matos and fitness coach Conall Murtagh.
Meanwhile, during the signing of Cody Gakpo, there were rumors that Linders played a more active role in the identification process than usual.
Wallace extrapolates these claims, pointing out that Gakpo, Luis Diaz and Darwin Nunez were attracted as a result of Dutch and Portuguese connections accumulated throughout Linders’ career.
These allegations were related to the departure of Michael Edwards and Julian Ward, and Jamie Carragher’s comments after the 3-1 defeat to Brentford were interesting because they came from a former player who had similar managerial structures.
He accused Liverpool of becoming “too technical” and put forward the theory that Linders’ fame in the team could be an important factor.
Carragher’s position was sound and informed, demonstrating that more noise can distort critical thinking, which can be more fruitful in such scenarios.
Should this cause concern?
If we are completely honest with ourselves, none of us has the slightest idea.
We have an innate desire to make assumptions, especially when things don’t go according to plan, but the reality is that the only people who really know about the scope of Linders’ role are the players and staff.
The performance levels of those on the field are quantifiable, but guessing what is going on behind the scenes is neither useful nor decorative.
If there is some truth in the assumptions about Linders’ excessive control over decisions, then it is worth remembering that Klopp is still the person who gives this power.
There are no Jedi mind tricks here.
If we are happy to trust Klopp’s judgment in any other area, then perhaps we should do the same here.
Simply put, if Linders has too much influence, it’s because Klopp gives him that influence and values his opinion — which is certainly true from Klopp’s own public comments about Linders.
The dollar will continue to fall from Jurgen until 2026 and hopefully later; any perceived failures in his backroom team at that time are within his purview.
Speculation is and always will be a part of the football fan. To remove it would be to detract from the experience we fell in love with in the first place.
In the meantime, let’s stick with them, shall we?