LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, October 22, 2019: Liverpool's Mohamed Salahand and Georginio Wijnaldum during a training session at Melwood Training Ground ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group E match between KRC Genk and Liverpool FC. (Pic by Paul Greenwood/Propaganda)

The role of Liverpool’s psychologist in title challenge and the coronavirus break

The Liverpool squad have been given advice from the club’s sports psychologist Lee Richardson as they contend with the coronavirus pandemic and this season’s title tilt.

Richardson was appointed last summer, and on a normal basis operates from an office at Melwood three days a week.

Now, his day-to-day has changed as with every other staff member, with the squad staying away from the training ground bar those receiving treatment for injuries—those being Alisson, Xherdan Shaqiri, Nathaniel Clyne and Yasser Larouci.

Back in November, Jurgen Klopp described Richardson’s arrival as the “next step” for the Reds, to provide a much-needed support during a crucial season.

His influence is clearly playing off, with Liverpool only having lost once in the Premier League so far and fighting back from the brink on a number of occasions.

But in a report from the Mail, a presentation from Richardson has explained to Klopp’s squad how to deal with their current situation, with football suspended and players in isolation.

They remain six points away from the title, but the club’s sports psychologist has explained that while “we will come out of the other side of this,” it is important to be “realistic that this will not be for some time.”

Richardson’s approach is positive, providing the squad with breathing exercises to deal with anxiety and urging them to find routine in isolation along with their families.

The squad have also been given social media guidelines, and have been told to avoid any sensitive topics, though “a sense of humour is encouraged,” which has been seen in James Milner and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain‘s posts in particular.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Monday, September 16, 2019: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp speaks to his squad during a training session at Melwood Training Ground ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group E match between SSC Napoli and Liverpool FC. (Pic by Laura Malkin/Propaganda)

“In focusing on the controllable and in accepting that which we cannot control—i.e. Premier League, government response—we give ourselves the best chance of overcoming the psychological challenge of keeping perspective,” Richardson explained.

“As the manager has said, football is not the most important thing. The health and safety of us all is far more important.”

It is encouraging that Richardson is available for players, particularly during this uncertain period, as they have been thrown into an unnatural situation and deprived of their livelihood.

This may seem a minor issue in the grand scheme of things, but they are as vulnerable to mental health issues as any other member of society, regardless of their wealth.

The appointment of Richardson was essential to ensuring the progress of Klopp’s squad, and though these are unprecedented times, it is now proving even more important a decision to bring him into the fold.

And when football does return, the hope is that his work will pay off and Liverpool can hit the ground running again and seal the Premier League title in due course.