Excl: “Raising The Bar” – Former Goalkeeper On ‘Highly Demanding’ Arne Slot And Sipke Hulshoff

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Liverpool begins to get used to life under Arne Slot with summer transfer talk already rife and the prospect of a new era filling supporters with trepidation and excitement in equal measure. 

However, although plenty is expected to change under the Dutch Head Coach, one thing is likely to remain a constant, the presence of Alisson Becker taking up the majority of the Reds’ goal for the foreseeable future. 

Despite the exit of long-serving goalkeeping coach John Achterberg, with any reports of an early exit seemingly quashed and Claudio Taffarel also here to stay, the Brazilian seems almost certain to play a key role in the developing Liverpool 2.0 in 2024/25 and beyond. 

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As such, we thought we’d find out exactly what Slot and his right-hand man Sipke Hulshoff expect from the man between the sticks as we spoke to former Cambuur goalkeeper and author of a book on the art of goalkeeping, Harm Zeinstra

What was it like playing under Slot and Hulshoff? “They were both quite young and ambitious coaches with an exceptional vision of the game. Especially Arne had as a starting coach a clear idea of the playing style and a clear idea of how to train to achieve the desired playing style.”

How would you describe their management styles? “I think Arne is a bit more outgoing and the manager with Sipke as an excellent on-field coach and analyst next to Arne. Arne is a very good communicator, as you probably have seen in the Dutch media. Always with a good attitude and a smile, even in tough situations. To the players, he is fair, straightforward and friendly as well. He is still quite young as a coach and can relate to this generation of players.” 

Are you surprised they’ve continued working together? “No, I’m not surprised. At the time at Cambuur, they worked really well together and after they parted ways (Arne to AZ en Sipke to FC Volendam) I did understand they kept in contact with each other.”

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What do they demand from a goalkeeper? “Arne is quite clear in what he demands from a goalkeeper. The goalkeeper should be strong in 1v1, dominating his area in the 18-yard box and beyond when they play high press and be of value in the attacking play. Last season you could see the development of Bijlow and Wellenreuther on those aspects really well.”

How did they set out training sessions, were they innovative? “The first answer that comes to mind is that I enjoyed their sessions really. A lot of high-intensity game simulations, with always a tactical principle in mind. A lot of small games with different rules to stimulate our behaviour on the pitch. And yes, in my experience back then, that was quite innovative. Most coaches used to repeat some exercises and did often boring 11vs11 training sessions for tactical movements. Arne and Sipke changed that a lot!”

Any good stories? “Haha no juicy stories of them. They were always focused on the next game and demanding more and raising the bar.”

Backing them to succeed at Liverpool? “I’m sure they have the qualities to succeed at LFC, for sure! Arne is a highly demanding coach to himself, his staff and the players. Of course, many things can happen but I believe LFC made an excellent choice for Arne and I’m sure if LFC wouldn’t do it, some other big club would.”


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Yet more high praise for the man now at the forefront of The Reds ahead of a new dawn at Anfield and it’s welcomed given the concern when it comes to following in the footsteps of the universally adored Klopp. 

Whilst time will be the only way we can tell whether the appointment is the right one, further endorsement from another former player can only add to the confidence that FSG, Michael Edwards and co have indeed chosen wisely.

From speaking to Harm it also appears as though we can expect to see much more in the way of Alisson’s footwork being put to the test. 

Thanks so much to Harm for his contribution. 

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