Liverpool fans the world over googled Sean O’Driscoll’s name moments after his appointment as Brendan Rodger’s new assistant manager only to scratch their heads in bewilderment and copy and paste the name ‘Pepijn Lijnders’ into their search engines shortly after. The latter was promoted from his role as Liverpool’s under 16’s coach to the newly created position of ‘first team development coach’; he will also work with the youth squads under the same title. O’Driscoll stepped down from his job as England’s under 19’s manager to take up the assistant’s job at Anfield.
So who are they and what are they going to do? Both are renowned among football aficionados as ‘attacking’ coaches, they favour high pressing and pass – pass – pass again football. They also share a passion for developing young footballers which surely means Liverpool plan to firm up the bridges between youth teams and the first team squad. The loss of Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher in recent years has highlighted the lack of local talent coming through, and with bought – in starlets like Raheem Sterling appearing to lack the loyalty of the famed scouse pair the Kop will be in need of new local heroes, and the team on the pitch will be in need of a new heart. This is where the ‘first team development coach’ will come in, a good guess of what Lijnders job will entail would be to usher young promising academy players through to the senior squad…while ensuring their feet stay firmly on the ground, providing individual training catered to each players strengths and weaknesses. In Sean O’Driscoll Rodgers has added some much needed experience and authority, an older head to steer the squad in the right direction.
Fan favourite Gary McAllister is expected to be confirmed as first team coach in the coming days which would be another excellent addition, perhaps he can address the teams ‘heart’ situation by pumping some much needed passion into the squad. Something had to change at Anfield this summer and so far those changes have been as surprising as they are promising. Many expected Brendan Rodgers to be going on an extended holiday this summer; instead he has got his thinking cap on, his head down and made a plan for the future. If things work out, the promise of glory returning to Merseyside two seasons ago may not have been all smoke with no fire after all.