The following article delves into how newly appointed head of recovery can ease Liverpool’s injury woes.
Meticulousness has been on high order since Jurgen Klopp took over Liverpool in 2016. Success does not happen by accident. Since the Germans arrival the Anfield big-wigs have surveyed the entirety of the club with a fine-tooth comb, making alterations where seen fit. Some significant, with an obvious innovative intent to elevate the club in already accelerating areas of football such as data analytics. Others, minute, in order to gain any tiny proportion of marginal gain, much like the scoffed-at appointment of throw-in coach, Thomas Gronnemark. A culmination of carefully woven together strategies, ideas supplemented by drive, hard-work and clear direction has restored a return to English footballs summit, and in barnstorming fashion.
Domestically, globally, and universally, Liverpool’s back room staff have the edge. And they are not stopping. A move to state-of-the-art training ground, Kirkby shows the intent to not only build a title winning side, but a dynasty on all fronts. The next piece of their puzzle comes from European rivals, Bayern Munich, in newly appointed Head of Recovery, Andreas Schlumberger.
Background and Career
Liverpool scout staff members just as well as they do players, with Schlumberger, 54, joining Andreas Kornmayer and Peter Krawietz as part of the German contingent.
Albert Einstein hails from the same city as Schlumberber, in Ulm, with Liverpool’s centre back equation being one that even he could not solve. But Schlumberger can. Studying for 6 years in Education in Sports Science and History at The University of Frankfurt, which just happens to be the same place of study as Jurgen Klop. Schlumberger’s knowledge is unquantified with a CV inundated with the biggest jobs in sport.
It took only 3 years after his first footballing job, at Nurnberg, to be picked up by the German football association as Head of Fitness, working up with all age groups up until U17 level.
2011 saw Klopp and Schlumberger united for the first time, spending 4 years with Borussia Dortmund up until 2015 as the head of fitness and rehabilitation, winning two Bundesliga titles in that time.
In a move that no one could see coming, Bayern Munich swooped in to poach a key component of an opposition team, on a free. Who’d have thought? However, Schlumberger only lasted two years before requesting to move for private reasons, with stints to come at Borussia Monchengladbach and Schalke.
Jurgen Klopp, seemingly buoyant about being reunited with his old friend, labelled Schlumberger as ‘the number one in Germany’ in a move that ‘absolutely makes sense’.
Klopp goes further to comment on the state of recovery and rehab in football in its entirety, claiming although it has come a along way from its ‘catastrophic’ state 20 years years ago, ‘it is not yet finished, the development is not finished, so the knowledge is not finished’
This season has been a disaster for Liverpool. Having been blessed with a particularly clean bill of health last season, this season has seen prolonged injuries to Joe Gomez, Virgil Van Dijk, Thiago Alcantara and Alisson Becker. Key players. Within the context of this season, you can throw in Diogo Jota too.
With Liverpool’s squad laid thread bare and games coming thicker and faster than ever before, this had led to further injuries due to unsurmountable pressure on players bodies with little time to recover. Joel Matip being most valuable culprit, at a time when Liverpool fans go as far to dearly miss Dejan Lovren, as we saw Liverpool take to the field with no centre backs in the biggest game of the season. Recovery and rehabilitation has never been more important
This is without mentioning the effects of Covid, which has seen Naby Keita, Salah, Mane, Thiago miss games, while robbing Trent Alexander-Arnold of a pre-season.
Andreas Schlumberger: A Philosophy in Rehabilitation
The workings and methods that occur behind the scenes in elite sport is understandably rarely be made public. However, after finding an interview with Schlumberger conducted by RP online, during his stint with Borussia Monchengladbach, we can at least see the basis of Andreas Schlumberger’s workings, and how that can help Liverpool Football club.
Unfortunately for me, the interview is in German. So please understand that some of the quotes may slightly be off as I do my best with the little translation tools I have.
Here are some of the quotes I thought where interesting, but to read the full article you can find it here: Borussia Mönchengladbach: Andreas Schlumberger im Interview (rp-online.de)
SCHLUMBERGER INTERVIEW QUOTES TRANSLATED FROM GERMAN
On dealing with a lot of injuries at one time: “You can't gloss over it. We had 20 muscle injuries, some of them severe. It has happened to other teams too, But when we deal with the issue internally, it doesn't help us to be emotional. We are in high-performance sport, there are many different influences. The coach wants to have the best possible team on the field as quickly as possible, the players want to be back quickly - this is how the rehabilitation works between safety and a quick comeback.
On communicating with the international team manager: “We are intensifying this more and more. We have a lot of international matches. But if he then makes two more international matches, the risk of something happening again is higher. We know that he is at the limit, we pass that on to our colleagues.”
On using GPS systems in football: Let's take stress monitoring. This means that you monitor the stress of the players with GPS technology, which we have been using since February, the athletic trainers consult with each player after each training session about how the stress was felt, and everything is documented. That helps to work in a structured way
On analyzing mistakes: You shouldn't make the mistake of discarding everything in a problematic situation. Then the good things are lost too. You have to approach the matter very differently. It's about change, but above all about optimization.
Of course, this is a considerably basic overview of Schlumberger’s work. But with Jordan Henderson now warming a seat in the treatment room, he may play a bigger role sooner than planned.
The good thing is we can see that from his time at Monchengladbach, Schlumberger is used to working with high amounts of injured players at once, working under pressure to play the best possible team. But as he stated, he works with no emotion. Players will not be rushed because of a big game at the weekend – If they cannot play, they cannot play. Perhaps one can accuse of Liverpool of doing so from time to time, with Joel Matip and Naby Keita being seemingly broken by playing a single game.
Schlumberger also places an importance on communication with national team coaches. Not that Liverpool do not do so already, but any improvement in this area will be very much welcomed by Liverpool fans, with Joe Gomez most recent injury on England duty not being the first of its kind, while Naby Keita has been seemingly irreparable ever since he was rushed back from injury with Papa New Guinea.
Furthermore, muscle injuries seem to be somewhat of a forte for Schlumberger, which seem to have plagued Jurgen Klopp’s side for as long as one can remember. This is especially important for new signings. We are all aware of the level of intensity Jurgen Klopp demands, with it not being unnormal for new signings to suffer small muscle injuries as their bodies get to grips with the physical demands.
Finally, it seems that Schlumberger is his own biggest critic. This works both ways though, wherein even if the result is not good enough, the process is analysed in its entirety and what worked well stays. Schlumberger is constantly refining his skillset, which is why he is held in such high regard. The fact that apart of Bayern Munich’s backroom staff, who were desperate to keep him, speaks volumes.
It will probably take time for us to be able to identify any influence from Schlumberger taking affect, but Liverpool are in dire need.