Outside of Aon Training Complex.

How United’s players are staying fit at home

Wednesday 29 April 2020 07:00

Life under lockdown has required all areas of Manchester United’s business to adapt to new ways of working, not least the club’s medical department.

Along with the coaching staff and the fitness team, the medical team are part of the wider group charged with making sure the first-team squad remain in peak condition while based away from the Aon Training Complex.

Dr Steve McNally – Head of Football Medicine and Science at the club – recently spoke to MUTV’s Mark Sullivan and described how his team have dealt with these unique set of challenges over the last few weeks.
“Obviously it’s difficult for me to manage patients without being face-to-face,” he explained, “but fortunately most of the boys have been well, there’s been no big issues at all.

“It’s been interesting to see how self-sufficient and self-managing they have become over the past few weeks. They’ve got a big team around them at the Aon Training Complex and when we’re on the road, we all want to do our bit to help them. They’re on their own a little bit now and I’ve been really pleased and quite proud of the way they’ve got on with it.”
Dr Steve McNally, United's Head of Football Medicine and Science.
The enforced shutdown of the season came just as the detailed and intensive preparation that goes into getting the first-team squad primed for a long, hard campaign was paying off, but Dr McNally and his team are finding positives in the situation.

“We felt we were getting to a point where all the hard work that had gone in for the beginning of July was starting to come to fruition, so it’s a bit of a frustration for us to suddenly have it stop it in its tracks, but there are some benefits as well as the challenges that we’re having to face.

“Players don’t normally get this opportunity to recharge and reinvigorate at this stage of the season. We’re five weeks into it now so if we adopt that mentality of allowing them a bit of time to refresh, we can take the positives from that side of things.
“As a medic I felt we were getting a real physical robustness amongst the players. At the beginning of the season and, particularly on tour, we made quite a lot about how we were trying to improve the athleticism of the squad. Obviously that brings with it risks of injury, and we had a few injuries along the way which is part of it, but I thought we’d got through that. Hopefully we’ve retained as much of that physical robustness as we can.”
On a day-to-day basis all members of the United backroom team, as well as the playing staff, of course, have been based at home for the last month, but there are times when Dr McNally cuts a solitary figure at the training ground.

“I’m still the only one who comes into the Aon Training Complex every now and then, to use that as a base to make some important calls with the execs and the senior managers gives me a flavour of what’s going on in the club in general – I can then pass that on to the manager, coaches and members of my staff.
The Aon Training Complex has been a pretty lonely place in recent weeks.
“I’ll get jobs to do from the players during the day and I’ve got all I need here to deal with those, things like distributing medication to them and getting bits of equipment out to them if the fitness lads want something to go out.

“It’s quite eerie – for the first week it wasn’t too bad because you got a bit of peace and quiet for once. It’s a buzzing place normally, but it’s really quite strange. I can’t wait to get everybody back, it will be good to see a few faces.”
And while Dr Steve and his team are fully focused on their responsibilities for United, as medical professionals they’ve got nothing but respect and support for the incredible work being undertaken on the frontline by the people of the NHS and key workers around the world.
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“As a club we’ve been trying to help the cause,” he explained, “and I’ve been doing a bit of work with many people around the club to try and help that. I’ve got family that work in the NHS, my sister works in the NHS, and have many colleagues from university and jobs in the past and I can’t thank them enough for what they’re doing.

“I feel a bit frustrated I can’t help them a little bit at the moment, I just wish I could help out in more of a practical way, but I’ve got a job to do here that is very important, so I’ll keep doing that.”
To see other home-based content from the Reds during this lockdown period, visit our United at Home page.