The relationship between manager and team doctor is often one of the least talked about, but perhaps one of the most important interactions in football. The manager’s job is to ensure that he picks a side that is fully fit, prepared and wins. To do that he needs the team Doctor to ensure the players fitness and health is managed during the time they are with the team. The sight of a doctor marching down the corridor to a manager’s office can fill even the most hardened boss with dread. The “messenger” more than likely delivering bad news that will affect team plans. Respect and trust are two key elements to any relationship and according to Dr Alan Byrne, team Doctor with the Republic of Ireland international football team, these are crucial to building a strong relationship with the medical team and the manager.
The role of the team doctor is determining, in the build-up to a big game, who can train, who can’t and who is available. The flow of information is important, as is communication. The manager needs to trust the doctor and work with the information he is receiving. Ultimately the player’s well-being is the main aim of the doctor, as much as the desire to see a team or indeed country win. Unlike most patient and doctor relationships, the connection between a team doctor and a player can is often stronger. Training camps can often be an intense period in a team’s calendar and build up to a game and those get-together’s offer opportunities for staff and players to spend time together. From eating together to time spent monitoring the players, the bond between the two grows especially during the longer period spent together. If a doctor was to treat a player differently from a “normal” patient then it would unethical and that is something more important that success. Watch Dr. Alan Byrne, team doctor with the Republic of Ireland national team, talk about his role with the FAI.