With just 14 fit players to select, Guardiola said after the match: “We have players who were out a long time with injuries. Their legs don’t last very long.” This ended a near 40-year association with the German champions for the successful, if eccentric, 72-year-old doctor, who resigned following Guardiola’s comments, along with the rest of his backroom staff.
It ended a spiky relationship between the two, which included Guardiola sarcastically applauding his medical staff on the bench upon his players being forced off through injury.
But then, Muller-Wohlfahrt’s treatments were famously “left field”, including injecting “Hyalart” – extracted from the crests of cockerels – to lubricate knee injuries and in 2009, prescribing more than 50 injections of goat’s blood to St Johnstone striker Peter MacDonald for his hamstring injury. It’s unclear whether he was sacked or resigned, but physio Matt Radcliffe only survived one season under new Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal. Lured from Southampton, Radcliffe’s eight-month tenure as “injury prevention specialist” saw his watch preside over an extraordinarily injury blighted season, including long-term lay offs for Michael Carrick, Luke Shaw, Ashley Young, Angel Di Maria, Robin van Persie and Radamel Falcao. Radcliffe is regarded as one of the best physios in the game, and is already being linked with a Spurs reunion with his old Southampton boss Mauricio Pochettino, but he’ll leave United with Van Gaal branding the injury situation during his first season in English football as the worst he had known in 30 years of management.
A man who runs his own promotional website and who once famously sent a marketing “brochure” out to prospective teams, Michael Owen has never been short of a few words on his favourite subject: himself. But he certainly believes his shortened, and often injury blighted career was down once again to the physio support he was given, or rather not given.
In his blog in December 2012, he wrote: “My rehabilitation was compromised due to our physio leaving the club [Liverpool] that summer and not being replaced until the following season and with no regular medical care during such a critical time, a routine injury was destined to restrict me for the rest of my career.
“I cringe when I look back on a quote I came out with after Gerard Houllier ‘rested’ me for a game. ‘I will rest when I’m 40’ I muttered in an interview,” he added.
Fitness coach and ex-assistant manager of Wales, Dutchman Raymond Verheijen also has form – he has blasted Arsenal’s “incompetent” training regime. The Gunners regularly top a league – and it’s one they’re rather not – PhysioRoom’s injury list.
And this is down to one thing, according to Verheijen: the training staff. Accusing the club of treating their players like “marines”, he told the Daily Mirror in March 2014: “In contact sports occasionally there is an unlucky injury but most injuries are a result of overloading the body… doing the wrong workload at the wrong time or in the wrong sequence.”
But despite the sometimes fraught relationship between medics and managers, the physios can on occasion be relied on to save the day. Ramildo Fonseca, a masseur with Brazilian side Aparecidense invaded the pitch to pull off two stunning saves in the final minutes of their play-off match against rivals Tupi.
Standing by the left-hand goalpost, Fonseca saw the ball rolling towards the line, saved twice and kicked the ball clear before grabbing his bag and running for his life during the last-16 Serie D play-off game in September 2013.
Armed guards had to protect a closed door to prevent Fonseca receiving a serious beating following his escape.
In which case, the physician would have had to heal himself.
© 2015 The Independent| This article was written by Rory Buckeridge and first appeared in The Independent on 13 August 2015.