30 years is a long time whichever way you look at it. 1990 In the world of sports science and nutrition is a completely different planet. In a recent interview former midfielder Jan Molby gave an insight into what life was like the last time Liverpool FC were crowned champions of England.
“There were four choices back in 1990, it was chicken and chips, fish and chips, pie and chips or sausage and chips. Ronnie Moran would write it all down and then, after every away game, we’d always stop off at a shop to collect our order for the journey home.
“That was the refuelling back then. All washed down with a few bottles of beer. We’d always have a few beers on the bus.”
The elusive 19th title is finally back on Merseyside and Jurgen Klopp has always been quick to stress it is due to the collective effort of the entire staff. However, one name that has been mentioned more than most is Mona Nemmer, Liverpool’s head of nutrition.
Klopp’s vision of the importance that should be placed on nutrition, can betraced back to a story from the clubs preseason camp in Palo Alto, California in 2016. “Usually, in preseason, the players eat as much as theycan, as fast as they can” Klopp said in an interview to assembled media. After a few days in Palo Alto he noticed that something was different, aftera full days training, tired and aching, players were taking their time over choices, hovering around the salad bars then leaving their phones and relaxing.
Jurgen Klopp had not introduced his Liverpool players to the woman who would subtly change their lives right away. Instead, when she joined the team at the club’s preseason camp in Palo Alto, California, last summer, Klopp waited a couple of days, eager to see if her actions would win them over more easily than his words.
Nemmer, at the camp for only a few days, had already made a big impression. The players were not to know this. Klopp had waited to introduce her to the team, knowing they may have been sceptical to a new approach. All he did was cast their minds to the menu Nemmer had created over the past few days and the players were convinced. The new head of nutrition’s plans — for individualized, scientifically planned diets, for food sourced as locally and as organically as possible, for four compulsory meals a day and even for cooking lessons were to be embraced.
Slowly but surely over the next few years’ nutritional habits at LFC have been transformed, instead of sweets at half-time, players drink apple juice with caffeine added to it.
After games at Anfield, a short walk from the home dressing room, sit pasta and rice stations with a range of protein and vegetables to choose from. Sea salt is used instead of table salt and sauces and dressings are made in house from scratch. If they wish to go home, they have the options of ‘doggy bags’ to take the food with them.
Klopps methods were embraced as soon as he stepped foot into Melwood and it is testament to Nemmer that she has had the same effect in her area of expertise. Players understand and accept her ideas as they enjoy the food and can feel its benefits.
There is also a psychological aspect behind Nemmers strategy. The theory is that if there is a greater range of healthy food on offer, something to each players’ taste, the less players will miss unhealthy options.
The results speak for themselves, four major trophies in two years with key players rarely missing. Virgil Van Dijk has played every game for the past two Premier League seasons with Firmino and Alexander-Arnold participating in every league game this season. Other big names such as Robertson, Mane and Salah have also been ever-present throughout these trophy-laden years.
Many praise Liverpool as a well-oiled machine and it is sure that Mona Nemmer is a vital cog in this