July 6 (Reuters) - Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers moved to reinforce his depleted coaching set up with the left field appointment of Sean O‘Driscoll and the promotion of Pepijn Lijnders from the academy.
O‘Driscoll, sacked by second tier Bristol City 18 month ago, leaves his head coach position with the England under-19s to become Rodgers’ assistant following the axing of Colin Pascoe after a review of a disappointing season by the club’s American owners.
The Fenway Sports Group also decided to dismiss first-team coach Mike Marsh following the evaluation in Boston last month but Rodgers was kept on despite a trophy-less campaign and sixth place league finish.
“I have made these appointments because I want to take us in a new technical direction, in terms of coaching,” Rodgers said in a statement on Monday.
“I believe the entire first-team set-up will benefit and I am extremely positive and excited about what we can achieve, as a group, going forward.”
The Northern Irishman came under heavy pressure last year after failing to match the heights of the previous title-challenging campaign following the sale of talismanic striker Luis Suarez to Barcelona.
A vast outlay on new signings failed to fill the void left by Suarez’s departure and a disappointing Champions League campaign ended at the group stage, while a meek exit to Aston Villa in the FA Cup semi-finals ended any hopes of silverware.
The former Swansea City, Watford and Reading boss was also criticised for his constant tinkering of tactics and personnel through the campaign.
He was confident, though, of a change in fortunes at the 18-times English and five-times European champions following the introduction of O‘Driscoll, a former Ireland international whose management experience has been limited to the lower echelons of English league football.
O‘Driscoll enjoyed promotion success with Doncaster Rovers and Bournemouth but the 58-year-old, known for playing a Rodgers-like passing style, was sacked from his more recent roles with Nottingham Forest and Bristol City.
“My admiration for Sean, as a professional, is well documented,” Rodgers added.
“He is someone with a clear vision and philosophy and has proved he has the ability to transfer that knowledge, through his coaching, to the players.”
O‘Driscoll was understandably thrilled at the opportunity.
“I am excited to be joining one of the world’s most iconic football clubs,” he said.
Lijnders is already familiar with the Anfield surroundings having joined in August last year to oversee the development of the under-16s having held similar roles with PSV Eindhoven and Porto.
The Dutchman will take on the newly created role of first team development coach. (Writing by Patrick Johnston in Singapore; Editing by John O‘Brien)