Fitness coach Tony Strudwick gives MUTV an insight into his important work with the champions...
Firstly, could you explain your role at Manchester United?
As Head of Fitness and Conditioning, my main priority is to ensure that the players are fit and ready for training and matches so I liaise between the medical and technical teams to plan what the players do on a day-to-day basis.
What are your duties on a matchday?
It’s all about player preparation but during the game, my role diminishes and I’m little more than a water boy. But the recovery process starts as soon as the game finishes and we’re immediately looking at the next game. We might work with some players on the field straight after the whistle, then they have a day off and we get them going again two days later. The work never stops.
How does it differ when we’re away in Europe?
The travelling component alters things so we take extra staff from the fitness team, to help manage the strain on the players. I’m a big fan of the team staying over for an extra night at the destination. That way, we get to eat well, sleep well and then recover the next day. It’s all to do with planning, whether the flight lasts for four hours or just 45 minutes as it did when we played in Amsterdam recently.
How is your job affected when players are on international duty, like last week?
At Carrington we can keep control but unfortunately, when they go away on international duty, we only have limited input. You have to communicate with the respective football associations. When Ji-sung Park was playing for South Korea, I once travelled with him to maintain the habits we have at United.
What work is done with those who aren’t playing for their countries?
We actually have quite a lot who have retired from international football. This allows us to adjust their training intensity so players like Ryan Giggs and Dimitar Berbatov can recover properly. But the boss and Mick Phelan maintain very high standards and the intensity often goes up.