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Liverpool's throw-in record holder: Why Jurgen Klopp thinks Thomas Gronnemark can be key

Liverpool are exploring every avenue possible to gain an advantage over rivals with the appointment of throw-in coach Thomas Gronnemark. 

Gronnemark, the world-record holder for the longest throw-in, has joined Jurgen Klopp's backroom staff on a part-time basis to help Liverpool improve from dead-ball situations.

ESPN FC spoke to former FC Midtjylland manager Glen Riddersholm to discuss the benefits of using the specialist coach.

ESPN FC: Why appoint a throw-in coach?

GR: First of all, I have great experience of working with Thomas. When I was the first full-time coach at Midtjylland's academy in 2004 we invited him in. He was actually on a Bobsleigh team trying to quality for the Olympics but Denmark is not actually a Winter Olympic nation. Then he started focussing on throw-ins and tried to break the world record by doing a backflip and then throwing the ball.

When I became head coach at FC Midtjylland [in 2011] I once again worked him. When I call him in as a specialist, it's not to work with the team. It's to work with specific players in specific positions who could take advantage. For example, making throw-ins 10 or 15 metres longer than they could before they started working with Thomas.

Why is the big question. It depends. For some teams it makes sense that when you're close to the final third and the penalty area you want to attack the opponent and create chances. He can actually develop the players, helping them throw 10, 20 metres longer than they could before. It's not about power and muscles, it's more about technique.

I'm a Liverpool supporter here in Denmark. I don't actually think that's what they look for. But I think they look for the small edge, the small percentage. I don't think you'll see Liverpool becoming a throw-in team.

 

ESPN FC: From a coaches' point of view, how important are throw-ins? 

GR: The speed and the pace of the throw-in is important. We've only talked about one aspect. In a game you can set up some agreements. For example, Liverpool are stealing the ball and they try and go for a counter-attack, but the ball goes out.

Because the opponent are not in their organised formation, you want to exploit their unbalance. So on the throw-in you can get the ball quick from the ball boys and throw a hard, deep, precise throw-in into the space behind. You have three very fast players at Liverpool -- Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and especially Mohamed Salah. That's very, very important.

It's easy and everyone can see that situation, but you need quality and players who can throw accurate, hard and precise. That's a skill. Also when you are defending it would make sense that in some games you can throw long and have some variations in your game.

The way I know Thomas, I don't think he has a playbook for short throw-ins. But the guy I really look up to a lot on short throw-ins and combinations -- two, three, four runs then you put the ball into play and you can keep the ball in the final third and put some pressure on the opponent -- is Maurizio Sarri. His Napoli team were fantastic in that aspect.

ESPN FC: It's not just throwing distance Gronnemark works on then...

GR: Sometimes when I watch a game I can be so frustrated when I see a full-back or winger taking a throw-in that's five metres in distance. Then you see the guy throw the ball up in the air. It's a tight space and you don't have much time on the ball. But then you need to control the ball when it's maybe two metres in the air?

Throw to the foot, throw to thigh so after a quick first touch you can keep possession of the ball. That fits really, really good to Liverpool and what they want to develop.

It's also about awareness on how to throw the throw-ins accurately, with the right pace, with the right timing and use it as a tactical instrument. If you have 40 or 50 throw-ins and you put some quality into these situations, you can make a throw-in situation into a possible goalscoring situation.

ESPN FC: So he's a worthwhile person to have on coaching staff? 

GR: Yes. I think it's modern and fresh. I like the approach. In football everybody knows almost everything. The small teams with all the wisdom and knowledge that is out there, it's very difficult not to organise a team, have a good solid plan. You need [something] extra. Every aspect is important. From that point of view, I think [the appointment] is smart and understandable.

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