Micah Richards has missed the point completely with his bizarre claim that Liverpool were wasting their time hiring a neuroscience company to aid with the pressure associated with penalty shootouts.
The 2021-22 Carabao Cup final was settled by an intense penalty shootout and despite the claim from former Manchester City star, Richards, Liverpool reaped the benefits of taking the initiative.
Did Liverpool hire a neuroscience company to aid their penalty shootout hopes?
Yes. Jurgen Klopp confirmed following the victorious 11-10 shootout over Chelsea that the Anfield side had made the use of the German neuroscience team which has helped improve their set-piece impact this season.
German neuroscience company, neuro11, posted on their official Twitter account after they spent the week building up to the final at Liverpool’s AXA Training Centre, with the caption:” Memories made #trainyourbrain.”
— neuro11_official (@neuro11official) February 28, 2022
According to their website, neuro11 offers the following key services which Liverpool took advantage of in their preparation for the Carabao Cup final.
- Scientifically sound: They use data-based methods that have been scientifically proven to improve performance.
- Neuro11 focuses on easy ways to convey the immense role that the brain plays on high-level athletic performance.
- According to a testimonial from Klopp: “The neuro11 team has developed a highly innovative and fact-based mental strength training method that can be seamlessly integrated into our existing training program.”
How have neuro11 already helped Liverpool increase their performance this season?
While it would immediately appear that their impact on Liverpool’s season is limited to their influence on the demanding penalty shootout that saw Jurgen Klopp win his first domestic cup with the Reds, that’s not the case.
Prior to the penalty work that neuro11 did with the Merseysiders, the German company have already been on hand this season to help Liverpool’s players improve their set-piece efficiency.
For a side that boasts dominant players like Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip and Fabinho while Sadio Mane and Diogo Jota are very talented in the air as well, Liverpool weren’t very effective in the attacking box at set-pieces at the start of the season.
This is especially wasteful when you consider the talent Trent Alexander-Arnold has from dead-ball situations.
Liverpool had plans to work with neuro11 previously but were forced to wait despite Pep Lijnders’ insistence due to the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on international collaborations.
Whether neuro11’s work with Liverpool has made a meaningful difference or not is up for debate as there is no tangible way to measure their success especially with all their work done behind close doors.
That said, Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool have 15 non-penalty-goals (NPGs) from set-pieces in the Premier League this season from set and are the Champions League’s most dangerous team from set-pieces, with five.
How did the German neuroscience company help Liverpool beat Chelsea on penalties?
By using unique headsets with electrodes that measure the live electrical activity of the brain, neuro11 are able to ascertain whether or not Liverpool players are “in the zone or not”.
What this means is that an elite footballer is able to simply do what he needs to instead of actually thinking about it which is where the modern-day blend of sports science and muscle memory comes into play.
Liverpool scored 11 penalties from 11 to beat Chelsea on penalties to win the Carabao Cup, a tournament rebranded from the Carling Cup that Steven Gerrard and Kenny Dalglish last won for the Reds in 2012.
A decade on and the Reds have reclaimed a trophy they had won 8 times before Caoimhín Kelleher held his nerve in the face of pressure unlike he has ever experienced before in his fledgling career.
He scored the 11th and decisive penalty before his opposite number, Kepa Arrizabalaga, skied his penalty and sent Liverpool fans around the globe into euphoric celebrations.
Micah Richards believes Liverpool wasted their time with neuroscience company
Former Man City defender, Richards, bizarrely ignoring the quality from Liverpool’s spot kick takers from the peerless James Milner to 23-year-old shot-stopper Kelleher, has taken issue with the Reds contracting neuro11.
He told the Monday Night Club about the time when he was playing for England’s U21s and was petrified of taking a spot-kick against Sweden.
Richards said: “I was playing for the 21’s against Sweden and I was ninth and I asked to go 10th because I was that nervous about taking one.”
Richards admits that even the England U21 goalkeepers were ready to take a spot kick ahead of him.
“Even the keepers wanted to go before me, it was crazy!”
“The neuroscience would have picked that up,” Mark Chapman then retorted.
“No, but it wouldn’t have to. I used to put it right in the stantion every day in training. In pre-season, it’s not even a real game, and Pellegrini gives me the nod [to take a penalty]. He gives me the nod and I said ‘what you giving me the nod for?’.
“He said ‘you’ve been doing it every day in training’.And I took one of the worst penalties in history.
“It’s completely different, so I don’t agree with this neuroscience. I don’t agree with it.”
Yet Richards, who is usually quite good with his takes, has failed to recognise how he has made the case for why companies like neuro11 can help defenders and goalkeepers be ready to win their sides’ tournaments like Kelleher did for Liverpool.
Every Liverpool player on the pitch in the 120th minute of regulation time at Wembley scored their penalty.
Milner scored his predictably military spot-kick into the side-netting to set the tone while Fabinho proved that he is Brazilian with an outrageously composed panenka to make Kepa look a fool.
Virgil van Dijk further dominated the Spaniard mentally when he stared him down after calling the Chelsea star’s bluff by whipping the ball to the Dutchman’s left despite Kepa standing much more to that side.
Salah scored with a beautiful finish but neuro11’s work can be observed in the penalties taken by the likes of Jota, Origi, Robertson and especially young Harvey Elliott.
Ibou Konate’s heart will have dropped when Kepa got a finger to his penalty but the ball found the back of the net and Kelleher stepped up to make it 11 out of 11 with a fine finish before Kepa lost his cool and blasted his own kick over the bar.