United's Medical Department

Bastian

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The end of season audit by INEOS was to cover all aspects of the club, including the medical department. I think it's interesting to have a thread on this particular department, and was surprised to find none, seeing as it is being revamped.

We hired Gary O'Driscoll from Arsenal where he was for 14 years:

O’Driscoll is one of the most experienced and respected leaders in sports medicine, having served as chairman of the Premier League Doctors’ Group and a member of the FA Medical Committee.
Before joining Arsenal, he spent six years as team doctor for the Ireland Rugby Union team, and performed the same role for the British and Irish Lions rugby team during two tours to New Zealand and South Africa.

He was trackside medical lead at the London 2012 Olympics and also had a spell as medical adviser to the Great Britain cycling squad.

O’Driscoll grew up in Manchester and is a lifelong United fan.
He became Head of Sports Medicine at the club on the 18th of September last year. Back in May that year there were reports of his being poached by United, but likely contractual issues ensured that we'd miss out on him being able to prepare the season and be with us for pre-season. His remit was also to audit the medical department and in January, United Head Physio Robin Sadler was sacked.

Quickly after the season ended it was reported that United had poached Arsenal's Head Physio, Jordan Reece, who was with Arsenal for 12 years. No date has been confirmed for when he can begin working for the club.

We obviously still had issues during the latter half of the season when Casemiro didn't trust the medical department when staff failed to spot an issue with his hamstring which his Barcelona doctor detected. And Shaw also blasting the medical department recently when he all but blamed staff for mishandling his recovery from injury declaring him fit to play when he wasn't (Erik is not absolved from blame either).

There are likely a multitude of factors at play here, such as the heavy schedule over the last 2-3 years (haven't we played the most football, or close to it, around Europe over the course of these seasons?).
Our commercial pre-seasons that have undermined our readiness rather than getting the team ready. Given how important it is to start the season well and proactively stave off injuries, it amazes me that we go to the US every summer. How much is that worth in money? How does that compare to money earned through sporting success? And, if we are to take them at face value, sporting success is what INEOS are putting first.
Erik being reckless at times, instead of being proactive. The only excuse here is that he doesn't trust enough of the squad he inherited, but it doesn't wash when we are playing key players against League One teams in the League Cup. And partly it could be tactical demands that ask of players something they are incapable of producing, so both psychological and physical toll. But that's maybe stretching.
And lastly, the lack of pedigree of the medical department.

I'd hope for O'Driscoll to be vocal internally at least, about pre-season needing to be much more sporting focused and for this summer to be the last time we do a money-grab tour of the US, rather than just focus on getting ready for the season.

Both O'Driscoll and Reece are highly praised. O'Driscoll struck me as the most likeable character in that Arsenal documentary, seemed to be very involved and on it. I didn't know he was a lifelong United fan which is a huge bonus.

Has there been any more information out there - with regards to staff, infrastructure, pre-season planning? If so, please share.
 

The Firestarter

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I absolutely despise our US preseasons .Weird schedule, tons of travel, we always seem tired at the start of the PL. I wish at least one year we stayed in Europe.
 

Big Ben Foster

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City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal, and many other PL clubs are also touring the US this summer, and tend to do so frequently. So it's definitely not just us.
 

Escobar

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City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal, and many other PL clubs are also touring the US this summer, and tend to do so frequently. So it's definitely not just us.
And they do not have too many issues. It is rather our unstructured and unprofessional approach
 

KM

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And they do not have too many issues. It is rather our unstructured and unprofessional approach
We seem to have learnt from last season and have reduced the airmiles by quite a lot whilst in US this time around to make sure players are well rested between matches.
 

FireballXL5

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INEOS should build a hospital next to the training ground in readiness for next season. You know half the team will be injured by Christmas.
 

RoyH1

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I absolutely despise our US preseasons .Weird schedule, tons of travel, we always seem tired at the start of the PL. I wish at least one year we stayed in Europe.
Agree. But there just seems to be so much money involved for clubs. All the big European clubs do it too.
 

didz

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I absolutely despise our US preseasons .Weird schedule, tons of travel, we always seem tired at the start of the PL. I wish at least one year we stayed in Europe.
I agree, but at least we're not going coast to coast this time.
 

TwoSheds

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It's a shame it's always the US now - we have a lot of very fanatical supporters out in Asia who never seem to get to see us any more. If we're going to travel half way round the world, we could at least occasionally do it in Thailand or Malaysia or something.
 

Yakuza_devils

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We have most of the departments sorted out with best in class people appointed. I'm not so sure about medical department. Considering our awful records last year this department also should be revamped? Any updates on the latest?
 

SirAF

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It's a shame it's always the US now - we have a lot of very fanatical supporters out in Asia who never seem to get to see us any more. If we're going to travel half way round the world, we could at least occasionally do it in Thailand or Malaysia or something.
They were in Thailand only two years ago.
 

deef

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We have most of the departments sorted out with best in class people appointed. I'm not so sure about medical department. Considering our awful records last year this department also should be revamped? Any updates on the latest?
I was looking at the Mount thread and came here to ask the same question. There are so many weird and unusually long injuries. Additionally, some questionable advice has been given to the manager, particularly regarding the left-back situation.

It would have been nice to get some information on these issues. Obviously, they don't have to do full disclosure, but the whole situation was a bit weird.
 

Yakuza_devils

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I was looking at the Mount thread and came here to ask the same question. There are so many weird and unusually long injuries. Additionally, some questionable advice has been given to the manager, particularly regarding the left-back situation.

It would have been nice to get some information on these issues. Obviously, they don't have to do full disclosure, but the whole situation was a bit weird.
Yes we are in need of Head of Medical as much as DOF, Technical Director, Head of Recruitment and whatnot.
 

leontas

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We obviously poached O’Driscoll from Arsenal in January. Seems like we also got Jordan Reece to join as a physio. Think O’Driscoll will be given more leeway to restructure the whole department this summer.
 

GoldanoGraham

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I would expect that one of the key focus areas from the Ineos review would have been on this topic.

Clearly we made some serious errors here last season rushing players back or not fully diagnosing issues - now with our marginal gains mentality and experience from the cycling background we should be able to drastically improve the recovery and thus reduce the injuries going forward.

Improve this area and we will definitely improve our overall performance next season.
 

simonhch

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We have most of the departments sorted out with best in class people appointed. I'm not so sure about medical department. Considering our awful records last year this department also should be revamped? Any updates on the latest?
We’ve brought in O’Driscoll and Reece for a start. Part of the Carrington revamp is an upgrade to medical and rehab facilities also. But a clear differentiation needs to be made between identifying work loads, treating injuries, the rehabilitation process, and the course of action taken by the coaching staff. I have heard that last season some players were pushed back into duty before the advised timeline of the medical department, and some players were played against the advice of the performance analysts as they were deemed in the “red zone” for injury risk. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink etc etc.

There needs to be a clearer hierarchy on making those decisions and they probably need to be taken out of the hands of the manager. I am sure that was a part of the review process.
 

Yakuza_devils

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We’ve brought in O’Driscoll and Reece for a start. Part of the Carrington revamp is an upgrade to medical and rehab facilities also. But a clear differentiation needs to be made between identifying work loads, treating injuries, the rehabilitation process, and the course of action taken by the coaching staff. I have heard that last season some players were pushed back into duty before the advised timeline of the medical department, and some players were played against the advice of the performance analysts as they were deemed in the “red zone” for injury risk. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink etc etc.

There needs to be a clearer hierarchy on making those decisions and they probably need to be taken out of the hands of the manager. I am sure that was a part of the review process.
We have high profile CEO, DOF, Technical Director and Head of Recruitment appointed. Clear upgrade by far from the previous regime.

Our medical department records were shocking last season and in need of drastic improvement. But so far there is no "major" appointment of best in class. But I could be wrong with my limited information/knowledge.

We need big improvement on our injuries records next season.
 

Bastian

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Nice to see traction here. Would love more insight if anyone has come across any articles or podcasts on the matter please share.
 

cyril C

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Don't blame the Medical department. MD does not cause injury, it was the training coach. The best that a Doc can do is to advise the % of chance on recovery, time of recovery. Very often it must happen first before a Doc has any say on that matter. Unless you think our Doc can over-rule the US pre-season tour, method of training, game time per players.
 

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Don't blame the Medical department. MD does not cause injury, it was the training coach. The best that a Doc can do is to advise the % of chance on recovery, time of recovery. Very often it must happen first before a Doc has any say on that matter. Unless you think our Doc can over-rule the US pre-season tour, method of training, game time per players.
Isn't there examples of our medical team missing issues and players getting diagnosed away from the club? Pretty sure I've read that numerous times. It's not all on the coaching, but it's clearly played a major part.
 

arnoldS

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Don't blame the Medical department. MD does not cause injury, it was the training coach. The best that a Doc can do is to advise the % of chance on recovery, time of recovery. Very often it must happen first before a Doc has any say on that matter. Unless you think our Doc can over-rule the US pre-season tour, method of training, game time per players.
Of course they can. If the medical department goes to the manager and says players show fatigue trough overtraining the manager has to change that. It's a symbiosis of many different departements and everyone has to give the right input. It very well may be that ETH overtrained but then the medical department has so step in here. It's good that INEOS see that a change is needed here.
 

cyril C

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Of course they can. If the medical department goes to the manager and says players show fatigue trough overtraining the manager has to change that. It's a symbiosis of many different departements and everyone has to give the right input. It very well may be that ETH overtrained but then the medical department has so step in here. It's good that INEOS see that a change is needed here.
Fatigue during pre-season? In the middle of a season, yes. Pre-season? Who will believe?
 

NewGlory

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I absolutely despise our US preseasons .Weird schedule, tons of travel, we always seem tired at the start of the PL. I wish at least one year we stayed in Europe.
So you preferred when we were going all the way to the other side of the world, to Australia? Your crying wolf about US tour is borderline off-topic to this thread. As others pointed out, plenty of Premiership teams do it and they are fine

Our medical team's performance was raising a lot of questions, last season, and I guess two members of medical staff getting fired confirms things were not ok. I hope the real root cause was eradicated and fitness of our players will be much better in the coming season