JOHN Achterberg reveals the struggles of goalkeepers moving to the bigger clubs and the main differences between playing for a team in the bottom end of the league, compared with playing for a club that is challenging at the summit of the league.
In a 25-minute interview, exclusive to the Anfield Wrap’s TAW Player subscription service, the goalkeeper coach and former Tranmere cult hero talked about the difference in expectation between those lower down the league and those at the top end.
Many goalkeepers have made the leap up the Premier League to play for the top teams, most notably Liverpool’s own Simon Mignolet, with mixed results and Achterberg believes this is due to the differences in their styles of play.
He said: “If you can do every aspect of goalkeeping, you can play in any team. If you play in a defensive team, then it’s very difficult to play in an attacking team because there is a lot more thinking, decision making and bravery needed in your play.
“If you play in the way I just described by playing a high line, then you can adapt to any system, but the other way is pretty difficult. For example, if you play for West Brom, you just stand on the goal line and make the save.”
And Achterberg also notes that the pressure at the big clubs is a key adaptation, insisting that everyone who joins the club, including himself as a member of the backroom staff as well as the players, has to learn to deal with the added weight of expectation.
— The Anfield Wrap (@TheAnfieldWrap) August 24, 2017
“If you work for a big club, you have to deal with all kinds of pressure, it’s for the goalkeeper, it’s for the player, it’s for the manager and it’s for the goalkeeper coach.”
This adaptation that the goalkeepers have to get used to in order to make the step up is also combined with the pressures of filling boots of past players, Achterberg explains.
“We had Pepe Reina in goal here, he was probably the best in the world with his feet.
“Then you get Simon coming in, he is no Pepe Reina and that is clear, that has been probably been hard to accept for the people.”
Achterberg insisted that there will never be a perfect goalkeeper for Liverpool or for any team and that mistakes are part and parcel of being the last line of defence.
“If we have [Manuel] Neuer in goal now, I tell you he will make mistakes.
“There isn’t a perfect goalkeeper for Liverpool because we always want clean sheets, we want to win 7-0, never concede and never make any mistakes.”
To listen to the full interview with Liverpool’s goalkeeping coach John Achterberg, SUBSCRIBE to TAW Player. It’s just a fiver a month with a one-month minimum term. A subscription also gives you access to our podcast archive – here are some of the highlights so far…