I spoke to Liverpool throw-in coach Thomas Grønnemark on his time at the club, what he actually does in training and that first phone call from Jurgen Klopp.
Who is your favourite ever Danish football player?
I think it would have to be the Laudrup brothers. They were very elegant and just fantastic football players.
How do you go about convincing/selling your ideas to new coaches or players who aren’t familiar with the benefits?
I just try to tell them that there are approximately 40 to 50 throw ins, in a game and that most clubs lose the ball more than 50% of the occasions when they have a throw in under pressure. It’s not so much just about the long throw ins, but I think if coaches are totally wild about these long throw ins they will just come to me because I know I am *laughs* one of the leading experts there, so yeah, I just try to convince them with the facts.
What was your initial reaction when Klopp called?
It was just fantastic. I was with my wife and two kids, we stopped the car and suddenly there was a voice mail on the answering machine because my phone was on silent so I couldn’t hear it. It was a +44 number from England, it could have been a salesman, but it wasn’t, it was Jurgen Klopp on the voicemail! I tried to call him again but he didn’t answer so we just drove on and I thought, I’ll just call him at home, but suddenly the phone rang again while I was driving, my wife took the phone and said “It’s Jurgen!” So, I drove to the side, stopped the car and spoke to him there and that was fantastic.
What is it like working at Melwood?
It’s just fantastic. It’s the best work place in the world. People are kind, people help each other, it’s the got the best food I’ve ever had, so it’s like a dream working at Melwood, it can’t be any better, also because I am a fan of the club too.
What progress have you seen from the players that you train?
Yeah, I can’t really reveal what they have been doing. Robbo has said himself he’s been improving more than 6 meters so that’s correct but we mostly focus on the fast throw in and the clever throw in at the club, we try to focus on keeping possession when we have a throw in under pressure, because if you lose it there, it’s very dangerous. That’s the main focus and we have done very good progress. Jurgen has also said that several times in press conferences, so I am very satisfied and I am also satisfied with continuing the rest of the season like this, so it couldn’t be better.
Who is the best throw in taker at the club?
Yeah, I think it’s perhaps obvious that Joe Gomez is the best one. He can throw very far, to the penalty spot, even longer if he wants to so that’s a very dangerous weapon. Of course, as I said in many occasions, we’re not just doing long throw ins at the club but when we do they will be very dangerous and of course dangerous for the English National team as you saw in the game against Croatia. He’s doing a fantastic job and having a fantastic development, he is really taking in a lot of things I have taught him. He (Gomez) has gone from a very good thrower to an absolute world class thrower.
Do you care about the criticism you may receive from the media who don’t understand the work that you are trying to do?
No, I really don’t, because a lot of people don’t understand what I am doing. A lot of people think it’s all about long throw ins and to do as many of them as possible, that’s just the way it is with criticism, I think people need to use more time to listen instead of criticizing and be more curious. I am quite easy about criticism, so no problem with that.
When and how did you go into coaching and how did you eventually specialize in just throw ins?
It’s a long story, but I am a former football player, I have been playing for 18 years myself, I was in the Danish athletics team for 6 years, in sprinting, 100, 200 and 400 meters and all these things, meant that in 2004 I decided to be a professional throw in coach because I thought “Hey, if I can make a long throw in, why can’t I teach other players to do it?”, so since then I’ve been coaching a lot of pro clubs, youth clubs and amateur clubs too. It’s just been going on since then and this season I am coaching Liverpool but I have also coached the Danish Champions, FC Midtjylland for several years and also a Bundesliga club too, so yeah, it’s fantastic.
Which stats in the distance in throwing length do you measure and report to coaches?
I do video analysis of every Liverpool game. I get sent videos of attacking and defending throw ins and then I give my analysis back to Jurgen and the other staff, so yeah, we will measure a lot of different things, some things I will keep a secret. There is a lot of communication between me and the other staff.
You recently tweeted a picture of you in Liverpool bed sheets, have you always followed Liverpool or has it only been since you joined the club?
No, I have always been a fan of Liverpool, but haven’t made anything big about it, because my dream was to coach in the biggest league in the world, the Premier League, and if you say “Hi, I am a Liverpool fan” than you can only coach Liverpool! *laughs*. I was at Anfield in 2012 in a match against Stoke, and as you perhaps can see that the picture was from my boys’ room, it’s a very old bed sheet, it’s been washed I think several hundred times, but again yes, I am a big fan of Liverpool and I will always be.
Anything else you would like us Liverpool supporters to know about the famous Thomas Grønnemark?
Haha, I don’t know really, I have been doing a lot of things, the best suggestion is to follow me on social media and YouTube! I give a few small stories from back in the day and set a world record using liquorish on my hands so there are a lot of crazy stories.
Thanks again for asking me these questions and I hope you are satisfied! YNWA.
Thank you to Thomas Grønnemark for answering my questions and I hope you enjoyed the article.
Interviewed and written by
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