Assistant manager Pepijn Lijnders met with the media ahead of Liverpool's Carabao Cup match with Derby County. He talked about the importance of the Carabao Cup, shared memories of the club's title win last year, and gave his take on the Reds' recent performances.
While some may look at the Carabao Cup as a lesser competition because it includes lower-division clubs in England. However, Lijnders says the Carabao Cup can not be overlooked.
“We know this competition can lift [you],” Lijnders said. “You play a semi-final in January, you play a final in February or March, so it's a competition which you can use as a trampoline basically. But also to develop the team because you need finals, you need games where it is tough.”
The Reds lifted the Carabao Cup last season and Lijnders shared fond memories of the Reds run to the title.
“It was the route to the final. It was amazing,” Lijnders said. “Being 3-1 down to Leicester at home, for example... I still see Jota running away after his winning penalty. The stadium was supporting us, shouting so loud, I remember - and being 3-1 down is never easy, but with the stadium like that it helps…The final - what to say? It could have been 5-5.
If you can go to Wembley to play a cup final and have half the stadium red, and we could have filled more, it makes me proud. I didn't see anyone there who didn't care about the cup. It was really important for everybody and for the club, and also because it was a competition we as a group didn't win before.”
“I think he chose the right word,” he said. “It was just before the final whistle blew, we spoke a little bit with each other and we needed this so bad - an away game, performing how we did in the first half...I am proud of the team and we need more to come.”
Pepijn Lijnders hits all the right notes in his press conference The Carabao Cup is vitally important to Liverpool. Not only does it give bench players valuable experience in competitive matches, particularly in the early rounds, but success in the competition can act as a springboard for the rest of the season.
It's easy to see how much lifting the Cup last year meant to players and staff. It is crucial that the team get off to a good start in the competition versus Derby County so they can have good feelings heading into the World Cup break.