Yesterday, news came out about Liverpool hiring sports psychologist Lee Richardson. Like other unorthodox Jurgen Klopp appointments or coaching methods, this one also gained quite a bit of press.
So naturally the boss was asked about Richardson today at the press conference, and took the opportunity to better explain his decision.
“I think around about 20, 25 years ago there were no goalie coaches in football and the head coach did the goalie training by himself,” Klopp said, giving a bit of a history lesson. “You had no athletic coaches, it was all our job pretty much. So, the teams around the team became bigger.
“The next thing was, of course, with psychology. It’s a job to do, but I cannot really speak [about it] because I am not involved. It is not that I speak to him and he comes to me; I spoke to him but that’s a completely confidential thing.
“What he is doing with the players, I am not involved. I have my part to do with the boys and do that like I did it before. It’s just an add-on for all the things we try to deliver. We try to make sure the boys are in the best hands.
“With Lee Richardson especially, the good thing is he was a player himself, a manager himself and then he decided to become a sports psychologist. It is a really interesting career, he’s a fantastic person, which is important because then I don’t have to convince the boys to talk to him. It’s easy.”
As in many of the players and other coaching and staff appointments, Richardson’s “path less taken” story was probably appealing to Klopp in and of itself. Klopp has also shown a tendency to bring in those who can add something to the staff that is beyond their current capacities. The boss might be a master motivator, but he also knows himself well enough to know his shortcomings, including (presumably) the next step beyond in-game psychology.
We know that Klopp respects the mental part of the game, and understands its importance in getting the most out of his players. Again, getting marginal gains in all areas, on and off the pitch.
Hopefully Richardson’s appointment will be just one of many puzzle pieces, that finally create the picture we all want to see at the end of the season.