EFL Cup run shows Liverpool's 'one club mentality' – Lijnders

By Sports Desk February 25, 2022

Liverpool's "one club mentality" has been proven by their run to the EFL Cup final, according to Jurgen Klopp's assistant Pep Lijnders.

Reds assistant coach Lijnders has taken all of the pre-match news conferences ahead of EFL Cup games this season and Liverpool saw no reason to break with that tradition ahead of Sunday's clash with Chelsea at Wembley.

It will be the third major final between the sides, with Chelsea winning the previous two meetings – 3-2 in the 2004-05 EFL Cup and 2-1 in the 2011-12 FA Cup.

Liverpool, however, are in the hunt for a record ninth EFL Cup crown, with their last success in the competition coming in 2012 via a penalty shoot-out win over Cardiff City. This is their 13th final in the competition – at least four more than any other side – though their first since 2016, when they lost to Manchester City.

Lijnders believes Liverpool have blended youth and experience perfectly throughout their run to Wembley, and thinks this is a sign the Reds are now a truly elite club.

"We have tradition in both, history in both [cup competitions]," he said.

"This is a competition where we want to bring young talent to showcase, that's really important.

"If you look at the best teams in the world, what do they have in common? It is the one club mentality and this journey in the EFL Cup shows we have exactly that.

"Now we are two days away from a final and we want to go into it with all we have, make it a proper game, we can't wait of course to go to Wembley, see all the fans, hear them, feel them.

"For the whole club it is a big compliment. This competition is so much more than just the first team, it was a proper compliment to our academy as well.

"We have to be spot on but we really look forward to it. We don't want to be the best team in the world, but we want to be the team that is capable of the best teams in the world."

Lijnders has come more into the foreground this season, at least in terms of his media duties, but he emphasised the importance of Klopp's entire backroom team as Liverpool aim to win a third major trophy under the German.

"Jurgen is so much more than a colleague, I am really grateful and happy with the way we work together," Lijnders added.

"It's not just me and him, it's so much more backroom staff who constantly are in our ears to make decisions or put us to the right path. Our togetherness comes from something.

"If you have a group of staff that show leadership it is probably the most powerful tool, we want our team to see how we are and it is important that they see that the manager, assistant manager, the other assistants, all of us are so close. There's a team behind the team and a manager is as good as the team behind the team."

Liverpool, however, will not be changing their routine just because they are playing in a final.

"When we started this project, we came to the conclusion that the way to be successful was just to focus on the next game," Lijnders said.

"Our group created the mentality that each next game was a final, or we could never have reached the levels we reached. We see each game literally as a final so nothing changes. We really see each game as a final, believe me."

It was a sentiment echoed by captain Jordan Henderson, who said: "Nothing different to what I normally do. Yes, it's a cup final, you get everything around that, but you have to treat it as any other game. We'll give everything, hopefully that's enough for us to win the trophy."

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