The Late Fitness Test podcast | Episode Nine

Getting down and dirty with all things injury-related. This weeks’ Late Fitness Test podcast covers a myriad of talking points… Johnny does his utmost to upset Frank Lampard while Stel pulls no punches as Manchester United’s on, and off-field, problems continue.

First up, we’re off to Stamford Bridge where the Chelsea boss is clearly unhappy following a recurrence of a hamstring injury which will rule Emerson out until after the international break.

(🎧 4:30m) The culture of blame

“Emerson is a similar injury to what he had, with a muscle. When you do that it means you’ve come back too soon. That’s not a slight on Emerson; everyone wants to play this game, fair play. Those things shouldn’t happen,” Lampard mused following the defeat to Liverpool.

“There is no blame when it comes to risk.” Practitioners need to delineate the risk of recurrence… to the player, to the manager to help make informed return to training, return to playing decisions… Research would postulate that your likelihood will lessen over time.

“You are not inoculated against the risk of injury…. What I find incredible is that he could give that type of answer, that type of answer might have held some water, let’s say 10-15 years ago, but not now. Everybody shares a responsible when returning players to training and playing.”

Physios reflect in practice, they’ll reflect during the event and use all their experience during that event and will be sympathetic to the fact that this hamstring may recur again. Lampard does not have that experience of returning a player to training and playing. He is reflecting on practice; he is reflecting on his decision after the event. This should not happen. He does not have the experience to reflect in practice.

(🎧 21:30m) Fitness, fitness, fitness

Fitness has always remained high on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s agenda since arriving at the club

Ahead of a warm-weather training camp to Dubai in January, Ole said. “We can get fitter, and we have to do that through the training sessions here. But Dubai is a good chance because now is the first time we get a week of work together.”

“Of course, we know our fitness is nowhere near good enough. I’ve said it before, I can’t wait to get a pre-season done,” he said following the 4-0 defeat to Everton in April.

While in pre-season, the United boss insisted “everyone should be as fit as they possibly could be” heading into the opening weekend. “It is not a case of breaking them down, it is not about proving a point; they are not fit enough. We are here to build them up.”

However, United’s lethargy and growing number of injuries have called into question the squad, so much so, that the sports science department is said to be perturbed by the number of players breaking down so early in the season given that most of them are non-contact injuries.

“The easiest thing to blame, the easiest thing to change is the fitness of the players. However, you can’t hold onto that excuse 12 weeks later.”

(🎧 27:30m) Norwich injury record

The Canaries have suffered 18 reported injuries since the opening weekend, more than any other top-flight side. But how much is down to bad luck? And, how much is of their own doing?

“The first sessions and the first weeks have been good” Head of Sports Science Chris Domogalla told Norwich City TV in July. “I’ve heard that the guys are not used to double sessions, but they’ve done a really good job. We’ve increased the load softly in each session because we knew the background. We’ve pushed the guys to improve them. That’s the way we want them to work.”

“Did training have to get harder, or did you have to train smarter? How much reflection is going on in both those camps?”

(🎧 36:30m) Recruiting from within

“Sometimes I not sure whether the recruitment process on backroom staff, on players, is as robust as maybe how robust the conditioning of the players has been. So, maybe we’re just looking in the wrong direction here. They are still recruiting within…… I’m calling into question the recruitment process here. You’re at the best club in the world, but going to the best club in the world, have you got the best people giving you the best advice…?”

Meanwhile, Stel does not pull any punches.

“Marcus Rashford is bottler…. Things aren’t going his way, and I know in the past certain players, have refused to play because they feel that they are too injured even though they can. And, for me, this injury may be legitimate, but I just think that it’s convenient that he’s pulled up right about the time people are questioning his form, they’re questioning his ability….. It seems that a lot of players at this club are very quick to hide behind the managers failing, what’s happening off the pitch with Woodward. It’s like a shield, and it’s going to continue until the owners eventually sell up.”

(🎧 39:30m) Treating the person

In recent years the conversation has morphed from: “Shall I have an MRI?” On to.. “So, there’s nothing on the MRI? Well what do you think it is then? Stuff that players would’ve played with 10-15 years ago, they probably don’t play with it now.”

“It comes down to the person you’re dealing with. “You’re not treating a hamstring; you’re not treating an ankle, you’re not treating an ACL. You’re treating the person that’s in front of you and what are they bringing to you, and what type of behaviour, and what character, because their character will determine the outcome and the physiology.”

(🎧 40:00m) Evidence-based medicine

“You get all these practitioners, and they hide behind evidence-based medicine, you see them all on Twitter. They go and quote a paper on hamstring injuries; they go and quote a paper on ACL’s. This is called acquisitional knowledge. They’ve acquired this through reading, through books, through articles, they’re working in the Premier League and they don’t have the experience to go ‘matching my anecdotal experience over the last 10-12 years with the research I see…..”

(🎧 43:00m) Listener Question – Genetics.

“You’ve heard about people talking about the speed gene… There is no such thing as a particular strength gene, or a particular speed gene, or a particular performance gene…. Genes play a part, but the polarising notion that it’s nature – the way you were born – or nurture – your conditioning and training – well that’s archaic, and that’s proven not to be right.”

(🎧 46:00m) Andy Carroll comeback!

“Is he able to put back-to-back minutes together? No. Was this an emotional decision by Newcastle United? Absolutely, definitely!”

And on reports by the Telegraph that state the likelihood of Carroll starting a game in the short to medium term is extremely slim with his involvement almost certainly confined to cameo roles as a substitute.

“It’s a very, very, very graded return to play and not one I’ve been involved in that people have been afforded so much time to return. Because usually, a player is given restricted minutes for a couple of games, and then, if their status is high within the squad, then they’re back in.”

Have a listen; we would love to hear your thoughts!

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