Exclusive: Tony Strudwick on changing managers and maintaining values at Sheffield Wednesday amid ‘the perfect storm’
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Strudwick, who worked with the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson and Louis van Gaal in the past, was brought into the Owls setup in 2019 by Steve Bruce, but since then has worked with the likes of Lee Bullen, Garry Monk, Tony Pulis and now interim manager, Neil Thompson.
Wednesday’s Head of Sports Science and Medicine has had his work cut out since his arrival, being tasked with helping with the club’s poor injury record prior to his arrival, but also overseeing an unprecedented spell following several COVID-19 shaped spanners in the works.
‘Struds’ is highly-regarded at Hillsborough and his name holds plenty of weight in English football, but he admits that the last year has been far from easy…
“It seems like a perfect storm over the last 12 months,” he told The Star. “A multitude of things that you have to deal with. The club have done well with that, we’ve tried to manage what we can, and you have to be flexible.
“During the lockdown things kept changing. Normally we’d go away for preseason, we couldn’t do that, for instance. For every plan we made, we had to change it two or three times. It’s been fun, but it’s been challenging.”
But it’s not just been the pandemic that’s made things interesting, with Strudwick outlasting two permanent managers and working with two interims. He says that there’s a necessity to be flexible.
He explained, “Each manager comes in with a different philosophy, and each will have a methodology and way of preparing their team… When I first arrived when Steve Bruce brought me in, he had a traditional English model in place. And then Lee Bullen had an interim period that was sort of a continuation of that.
“With Garry Monk, he came in with a different philosophy and idea of how he wanted his training model to look – which was completely different from Tony Pulis.
“The way the club is setup, and the way the chairman is going forward, is that there will be a stable club personnel, even if there’s a change in head coach. Invariably, what different managers want from their fitness coaches can be really, really different.
“I evolved and grew out of the traditional English-based model, but I’ve worked with southern European coaches, coaches from Portugal and the Netherlands, and the roles and responsibilities – what they want you to do – are very different. That’s a cultural thing.
“One thing you have to do though, is you have to be flexible to the model of the manager, but also retain some of the core values of what you expect and your expectations. We inform practice, and we drive insights to the manager, but the manager is the manager and we’re here to support.”
For now, it’s ‘Thommo’ that he’s supporting as the Owls look to try and climb away from the Championship’s bottom three – and with a game almost every three days for the next month, he’s certainly earning his money.