Thomas Grønnemark: Specialism gone mad?
It’s fair to say that Liverpool’s appointment of throw-in specialist, Thomas Grønnemark, a former coach for FC Midtjylland, raised a few eyebrows. Targeted as an object of ridicule, most notably by former Sky pundit, Andy Gray, question marks have been raised as to the necessity of such a specialty in football.
Gray mocked Liverpool’s latest addition to their backroom staff
Coming up with the novel idea of coaching throw-ins, in what – he joked – may have been a bobsleigh crash induced lightbulb moment, the Dane would be the first to admit the unconventionality of his job.
“I know it is totally the weirdest job in the world” he told BBC Sport.
When it comes to this under-appreciated set-piece, Rory Delap’s intimidating lobs for Stoke will certainly be on the forefront of football fans’ minds. However, Grønnemark was keen to emphasize that the throw-in need not be as one-dimensional. Throw-ins, he argued, are generally wasted opportunities, a view shared by Klopp, who felt that Liverpool often surrendered possession with the set-piece.
Contrary to Gray’s comments, Grønnemark asserted that his coaching doesn’t just involve teaching players how to throw a ball, but encompasses everything around it. Used effectively, a throw-in can become a potent weapon, helping smaller clubs survive the drop, as well as enhancing fluency on the pitch for those at the top of the league.
Grønnemark: “I focus on everything you can imagine. It is not just the technique of the throw, but how to receive it, how to make the right runs, the positioning, creating space”
Liverpool full-back, Andrew Robertson, gave a ringing endorsement of the coach, claiming that his methods would provide the Reds with an advantage in their push for trophies this season. The Scot hailed the improvements Grønnemark had made, not only in terms of added distance to their throws, but also in the tactical and positional nuances around the set-piece.
Indeed, the work Grønnemark has put in on the training ground could be observed clearly in the Leicester win, as Joe Gomez showcased his offensive capabilities with a dangerous, flat throw-in across the six-yard box.
Although, perhaps not the most glamorous part of the game, there is a strong case to be made for the throw-in to be treated as seriously as any other dead ball situation. Certainly, if Grønnemark’s specialism can earn Liverpool a few more points come the end of the season, there will be few to bemoan the appointment.
Unnecessary appointment? Or an important piece of a title-winning side? Have your say below.