Salzburg Manager Pep Ljinders Reveals He Was Close to Becoming Liverpool Manager

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Former Liverpool assistant manager Pep Ljinders has revealed how he was close to succeeding his former boss Jurgen Klopp as Liverpool manager.

Klopp, 56, struck a bolt from the blue when he announced in January 2024 that he will leave Liverpool at the end of the season.

Meanwhile, sources close to the Reds hierarchy say Klopp had informed the club back in October 2023 before he officially announced his decision to leave.

While envisaging his departure, it is understood the club had begun underground moves to find a replacement for the German.

According to Pep Lijnders, who worked with Jurgen Klopp as assistant manager, he was ‘really considered’ by Liverpool chiefs as a potential replacement for Jurgen Klopp as their manager.

Speaking with The Athletic, Ljinders said FSG president Mike Gordon phoned him in early February and said: ‘Pep, we really considered you, but I think it’s fair for you that we don’t put you after Jurgen.’

He also reflected on how Klopp had asked him on several occasions if he would become Liverpool boss but added that he said no each time.

”Jurgen asked me about it a few times in recent years. The season before I got the question from Jurgen and two times this season, but each time I said ‘no’.

”The first reason was I really felt that this was a project of ‘us’. Jurgen led it and I really felt we should end this project together. Secondly, I’ve been at Liverpool for nearly 10 years.’

The now-Salzburg manager expressed his belief that it was important for him to face a fresh challenge in a different environment.

”I was ready for a new experience: new people, my own staff, my own players. I gave everything I had to this playing group. I think the team would continue with the same ways if I stayed here.

”I feel that the team as well needs something new. But I never knew 100 percent what my response would be if Mike Gordon called me. You say ‘no, no, no’ but then…’

Ljinders left Liverpool simultaneously with Jurgen Klopp and is now the manager of Austria’s elite division side Salzburg.

Salzburg is his second first-team management role. The 41-year-old worked with Dutch second-division side NEC in 2018 before returning to Liverpool as assistant boss.

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