EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEWS

26/02/2013 09:56, Report by Gemma Thompson
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Strudwick: Recovery is key

Head of fitness and conditioning, Tony Strudwick, recently spoke to Inside United and gave an insight into his role of ensuring the players remain in peak condition for the business end of the season…

Are you happy with where the players are fitness-wise at this stage of the campaign?
Yes we are. We’ve come through the first half of the season now and are in a good position. We got off to a slow start which was perhaps a culmination of factors, including players coming back late from international duty and injuries, but from a fitness performance point of view I think we’re quite content. We’ve tried some different things this season and introduced some new ideas with regard to preparing the players for the robustness that you require for 50/60-game seasons. We’re happy with some and we’ll refine others. The new facilities at Carrington are also operational now and that will only help us from a fitness and medical perspective. To have travelled to places like Liverpool, Newcastle, Chelsea and City and won away from home has been great, but obviously we’re only halfway there. Last year we were in a good position but we saw how just a couple of results can cause a swing in momentum, so we’ve got to try and prepare for that come the end of the season. And we’ve got quite a few of the players back in the last couple of months or so, players like Kagawa, Nani, Anderson and Vidic are all pushing forward now. That only helps raise the quality throughout – it makes training more competitive and there is more competition for places.

How much variation does there tend to be between individuals when it comes to fitness? Players like Michael Carrick or Patrice Evra, for example, seem to be able to play 90 minutes almost every game…
Of course, football is a team sport but one of the key things is about how you manage individuals within that team structure. It’s not a case of having a one rule for all approach. We demand things from a team perspective, but there is very much an individual component to that. Some players like Patrice and Michael played four games in ten days over Christmas and Robin was also involved in all four. That tells you how important the recovery side of the game is as well and we’ve introduced some new recovery strategies that have so far gone down really well with the players. Some of the players will need extra recovery, while others will need additional work. That’s the challenge of our job really – to balance all the individuals. On

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