On 29 December, Liverpool appointed a fitness recovery coach, Andreas Schlumberger, to help with the club’s growing injury crisis. The German will be heading a newly-created specialized position—recovery and performance—for a club that’s been stung with a lengthy list of injury absentees this season. "Liverpool Football Club has appointed Dr Andreas Schlumberger as head of recovery and performance. This newly-created specialist role will support and work in close collaboration with the current performance, medical, and rehabilitation leadership," the club said in a statement.
Schlumberger is the latest to join the highly-specialized first-team backroom staff at the club’s new AXA Training Centre. Before taking up this role, Schlumberger worked with the Bundesliga club Schalke 04, where the 54-year-old was the head of fitness and prevention.
The 2020-21 season has been a trying one for the reigning Premier League champions. Both of the club’s first-choice centre-backs, Joe Gomez and the hugely influential Virgil van Dijk are long-term injury misses. Neither are expected to make a return to first-team action before the end of the season.
Marquee summer signing Thiago Alcântara, who joined Liverpool after winning the Champions League with Bayern Munich this year, got a few minutes of playing time in the 0-0 stalemate with Newcastle on 30 December. He’d been out injured since a league game against Everton on October 17. The fact that Liverpool have missed him was evident in the high-grade cameo he put in against Newcastle.
Another of the club’s centre-backs, Joel Matip, is out for three weeks with an adductor strain, which increases the pressure on the Reds’ defensive organization. Influential striker Diego Jota is also out injured, though he may return later in January.
Given the raft of injuries, and the fact that the congested fixture schedule will remain for the rest of the season, it makes sense to have a specialized recovery coach in place. Nor is Schlumberger a stranger to Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp, since the two Germans have worked together before. Schlumberger was a rehabilitation coach at Klopp’s former club Borussia Dortmund, where the two worked together for four seasons, between 2011 and 2015.
Floowing his stint at Dortmund, Schlumberger worked in a similar capacity at Bayern Munich. He has since worked with another Bundesliga club, Borussia Monchengladbach, before taking up a similar role at Schalke 04.