A lot of my coaching looks like ‘normal’ football after the first throw. I do plenty of work in large groups – often 11 versus 11 – so that the players are used to implementing my ideas into match-like situations.
I try to give the players the tools to work out the best way of creating space from a throw-in. Improving their ‘throw-in intelligence’, if you like. It is all about angles of approach, speed of movement, different players combining to create space. It is almost impossible to find a teammate when there is no movement or space at a throw-in.
It isn’t like having an American football-style playbook with predetermined moves, because if the opponents are alive to the move, you’re stuck. I give the players the tools and then they have to improvise and find their own way out of the situation.
The season before I joined Liverpool, they were the one of the best teams in the Premier League, but they were the third worst when it came to retaining possession from throw-ins, keeping the ball just 45.4 per cent of the time. This meant the majority of their throw-ins, which should be an advantage to have, resulted in a turnover.
“After realising I couldn’t become a pro footballer, I took up athletics and later joined the Danish bobsled team”
Then, in my first season working with the club in 2018/19, Liverpool’s ball retention from their throw-ins went up to 68.4 per cent – the best in the Premier League.
Then, in 2019/20, Liverpool scored 14 goals that resulted from a throw-in situation in one way or another. If you look at the numbers alone, you can see my work has been a real success.
On top of that, Liverpool won the Champions League and Premier League (below) in those two years.
You can definitely say my arrival was well timed, but my work has had a big influence on the team. Without even looking at the measurable success in the numbers, you can see the improvement on the pitch. If I can affect five or even 10 per cent of the team’s performance, then I call it good work.