A Who’s Who of Liverpool’s Backroom Staff?
This coming season promises to be an exciting one for Liverpool fans. The summer additions to a squad that reached a Champions League final at the end of last season has seen expectations and realistic targets reach their highest level in over a decade. However, the players are only half the story. Behind the stars, on the pitch and behind the manager Jurgen Klopp is a small army of people whose jobs are to make sure that the Liverpool players are as ready as possible win football matches. This season the backroom staff are in full focus due to the extra responsibility each has because of the continued leave of absence of Zeljko Buvac, Klopp’s main assistant. In this article, I will look at the main members of Klopp’s backroom staff and explore their roles within the club.
The first member of the backroom staff is technically the newest member, although he is returning to Liverpool after only six months managing NEC Nijmegen in the Dutch second division. Prior to his departure in January, Pepijn Lijnders had worked as first-team development coach a role he took up upon Klopp’s arrival at Liverpool, before which Lijnders had spent a sole season as manager of Liverpool under-16’s. In his role as first-team development coach, Lijnders was the main link between the first-team and the academy and is a big reason for the integration of young players into the first-team, the most notable being Trent Alexander-Arnold. Lijnders was also present at every first-team training session, making notes on what was done and working with the more experienced coaches to incorporate his new coaching ideas into the team’s routines.
When Lijnders left his role at NEC Nijmegen at the end of last season, Liverpool moved swiftly to bring him back into Klopp’s backroom staff, but the club have not yet given Lijnders an official job title, causing speculation that he is to replace the absent Zeljko Buvac as assistant manager. This speculation has been further increased by the fact that Lijnders has been placed in charge of first-team training sessions over the summer.
Krawietz has been nicknamed “the Eye” by Klopp and worked alongside his fellow German at both Mainz and Dortmund before they joined Liverpool. Less a hands-on coach than Lijnders, Kraweitz’s main role revolves around player analysis with him only really taking the reigns in the final training session before a match where he provides the tactical knowledge that players will need to implement in a game.
Alongside his tactical training, Kraweitz plays a key role during matches for Liverpool. When Klopp joined the club, one thing that he brought with him from Dortmund was the use of a video presentation during half-time. During the first half of a match, it is Kraweitz’s job to prepare this presentation for Klopp by analysing the opposition and looking for errors in the way that Liverpool have been playing before judging whether these are one-offs or if a pattern is forming, allowing the errors to be dealt with straight away rather than having them persist for the whole game.
Liverpool’s head of fitness and conditioning joined in 2016 following a 15-year association with Bayern Munich where he worked with numerous youth teams before being promoted to working with the first-team in 2010. Kornmayer now plays an active role in Liverpool training sessions, making sure that the players are at peak fitness before each match by advising the other coaches which players should be made available for which drills and doing extra fitness work with those who need it.
While Kornmayer’s impact on the team can largely be regarded a success, there are rumours that his high-level of involvement in first-team training has contributed to Zeljko Buvac’s leave of absence, with Buvac reportedly being unhappy at having several of his drills altered. However, this is just speculation and may not be true, or if it is, is likely to only be one of several reasons for Buvac’s continued estrangement from Liverpool.
Of all the backroom staff at any club, Achterberg is the one who seems to come under-fire the most. The reason for this is that he has been Liverpool’s goalkeeping coach since 2009, joining from Tranmere Rovers where he was a former goalkeeper himself. Many have questioned Achterberg’s ability as a goalkeeping coach as Liverpool have seen no first-team goalkeepers improve under his stewardship, further brought to light with the current plight of Loris Karius. However, Achterberg occupying the role under 5 different managers, after originally being hired during Rafael Benitez’s reign, shows that he is held in high regard, with colleagues highlighting his dedication to the role and the fact he lives for goalkeeping 24 hours a day.
Nemmer is a key member of Liverpool’s backroom staff despite not being on the coaching team. Like Kornmayer, Nemmer joined in 2016 from Bayern Munich, and took on the role of head of nutrition as Liverpool looked to reinvent their nutritional department. Despite being rarely considered when discussing backroom staff, Nemmer has a close relationship with all of the players and their families as she essentially tells them what they can eat and when, so as to bring further marginal gains that cannot be unlocked in training sessions.