Liverpool assistant manager Pep Lijnders reveals he almost joined Manchester United’s staff

Pep Lijnders
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Liverpool assistant manager Pep Lijnders has become an integral part of the club's success over the past six years, helping Jurgen Klopp to develop one of the world's best sides in their time working together.

Lijnders joined Liverpool in 2014, initially assisting Brendan Rodgers before working with Klopp after the Northern Irishman was sacked in October 2015. 

Under Klopp's leadership, and with Lijnders behind the scenes, Liverpool have since managed to reach three Champions League finals, as well as deliver the 2019/20 Premier League title and an FA Cup and League Cup. 

However, things could have panned out very differently, as Lijnders tells FourFourTwo.

"I had been at the academy of Porto since 2007 and had started to think about a next step," Lijnders explains.

"[In 2013] I received an approach from Manchester United – Alex Ferguson and his Dutch assistant Rene Meulensteen wanted to bring me to the club. It looked really good, but a few months later Ferguson retired and the opportunity fell through.

"One year later, Liverpool showed an interest and I became their under-16s coach. After a while I began to speak with Brendan Rodgers, who was curious how I was implementing a 3-4-3 system in my team.

"We got on well and in my second season [2015-16] I was asked to be one of his assistants," he adds. "I learned a lot from him, although he left by the October. I kept my assistant role when Jurgen Klopp came in and we’ve developed a very strong bond."

The pair spent a brief spell apart while Klopp managed Liverpool, with Lijnders pursuing his own managerial dreams by taking over Dutch side NEC in January 2018. He was sacked at the end of the season, though, after failing to gain promotion to the Eredivisie. 

The 39-year-old still harbours ambitions to return to management one day, and plans to sit down with his agent to discuss the possibilities. Firstly, though, he clarifies working as an assistant manager for anyone else other than Klopp simply won't happen. 

"I will assist Jurgen and Jurgen only," Lijnders says. "After this project I will be my own manager. When our contract finishes, I will sit down with my agent and see what’s available. For now, my focus is on attacking each game in front of us."

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Ryan Dabbs
Staff writer

Ryan is a staff writer for FourFourTwo, joining the team full-time in October 2022. He first joined Future in December 2020, working across FourFourTwo, Golf Monthly, Rugby World and Advnture's websites, before eventually earning himself a position with FourFourTwo permanently. After graduating from Cardiff University with a degree in Journalism and Communications, Ryan earned a NCTJ qualification to further develop as a writer while a Trainee News Writer at Future.