At the LFC Legends Press Event Dan (@thejonesdaniel) and Adam (@Adam_LFC_96) from The Anfield Talk were luckily enough to interview Jan Molby for @TheAnfieldTalk. This is not one to miss.
Jan Molby played 218 times for Liverpool, scoring 44 goals from midfield. Molby is one of the most famous players to pull on the red shirt and we thank him for his time to speak to us. This is the first half of two interviews with the former Reds midfielder which talks about Jan’s history as a football figure and mentions who impacted his career to help make it as successful as it was, how much injuries impacted his playing career and the role of Kenny Dalglish.
TAT: In your book ‘Jan the Man’ you mentioned you did a drill with Johan Cruyff where you tried to hit the corner flag from the half way line. Where you ever successful and was he a figure you looked up to?
Jan Molby: Yes, I think so. It was my first professional football club; I was about 18/19 and suddenly bumped into one of Europe’s finest Johan Cruyff. He had a lot of time for younger players and it was more how he viewed the game that helped us get better.
You have players who have exceptional talent that have niche aspects to their game that nobody else does and he was one of them. The drill he was doing with us was about playing into space, one thing that defenders dislike. Once I got the pace of the English game, prior to that it felt like 200 miles-per-hour, I think people saw the qualities I picked up and reaped the rewards from the drill. Ian Rush would hopefully say I benefited from the drill.
Was I successful? You’re allowed to tell porkies once or twice. I hit it now and then near the corner flag. The main aspect of the experience was being with Cruyff who constantly talked of how to improve and something that I always remember to this day is when left footers miss penalties, when they do I say: ‘Johan Cruyff told me that’. Just little things like that. It is things that you remember for the rest of your life.
TAT: How much do you owe to Kenny Dalglish for giving you your first Liverpool start?
Jan Molby: Kenny Dalglish was my type of manager, he was a great student of the game which was shown by his studying of games, being a fan of the late 80s AC Milan team and the national Denmark side in the 80s. I am very grateful and without Kenny, Liverpool wouldn’t have been what it is without him.
TAT: Did the managers you had impact your managerial career?
Jan Molby: I took a lot of qualities with me on how the game should be played. I had my own tactics and drills. The main aspect is like the Jurgen Klopp effect, achieving a positive mind-set. It is very difficult as its human nature to be careful. So, to get players to be positive is a very hard job. The first thing is not to follow runners you pressure the ball, if you pressure the ball they cannot play the pass.
The first thing my manager told me was ‘there is only one ball, there is only one ball, close the ball, stop the ball’ then you will be alright. The lower down the leagues you get, as I was a lower league manager, it gets harder to motivate and get the players to be positive because they want to look over the shoulder and say ‘he is free’ but it doesn’t matter, don’t worry about him being free, close the ball down. So, I tried and learnt a lot of good things.
Before I came to Liverpool, at Ajax, we were a showboating team, very good team but we were [always] showboating. At Denmark, we were not playing to win but advertise Denmark and show how good we were. But at Liverpool we were playing to win, that’s how we play. No showboating, do that when the game has won. It is true, isn’t it? Get the game won then enjoy yourself.
TAT: What was it like during the latter stages of you career picking up injuries?
Jan Molby: It was awful. I often say about careers that you have two halves. The first your fit, young and play every game and nothing to worry about. Then the second where you must manage your career. You manage it where you cannot play every game or you pick up injuries and mine was picking up injuries and it was frustrating.
When you’re injured you’re doing twice as much work as anyone else. In the gym, having treatment all day, working away and for very little reward. When I came back after my Achilles injury at Old Trafford, I was working harder than I ever have done and that was just to be average and that was heart-wrenching for me.
There’s a saying in football and that is you can have ‘one injury too many’ and you just cannot keep coming back and I worked hard to average and that was upsetting for me.
Catch part two of our interview on Thursday, where Molby discussed this season at Liverpool.