Arsenal physio in Ghana an example of Arteta’s marginal gain philosophy

Some strange news this week was Arsenal physio Simon Murphy joining Thomas Partey in Ghana.

Rumours circulated as to why he was there. Was it as chaperone, was it to help Partey manage his injury? Or maybe Murphy just loves jollof rice and was using the international break for a bit of a holiday.

Pictures then dropped of Murphy in Ghanaian training gear.

A lot has been said over the last 12 months about the small things Mikel Arteta is doing to try and help Arsenal win the league title.

Having “You’ll never walk alone” blast out in training in the lead up to Liverpool, plying crowd noise through speakers at London Colney and having DJ on the sidelines trying to distract the players are just a few of things.

Recently he took a replica Clock End clock to Fulham. And numerous other stories have risen about how Arteta has tried to make away games seem more homely.

These are all what is called marginal gains. A tactic made famous by British Cycling’s David Brailsford.

“The whole principle came from the idea that if you broke down everything you could think of that goes into riding a bike, and then improved it by 1%, you will get a significant increase when you put them all together” Brailsford explained in 2012.

Brailsford’s 1% factor has since transferred across to other sports and the business world.

Arteta is one that clearly looks for an marginal gain, and sending Murphy to Ghana is an example.

You always worry when players go on international duty to 3rd world nations where they do not have the same level of fitness, nutrition and medical care expertise as Arsenal.

Too often teams have seen players return from the African Cup of Nations overweight, injured or unfit.

It is actually a surprise that teams have not “loaned” their physios to the likes of Ghana earlier.

With half the first team squad away on international duty, Arsenal’s physios will have less workload over the next two weeks, so it makes a lot of sense to ship one (or two) of them off to help out those lesser nations whom our key players play for.

Arsenal have done a great job nurturing Partey’s body through this season, and our title hopes really do rest in his hands, his body.

Partey staying fit dramatically increases our chance of winning the league. Murphy being out in Ghana dramatically increases the chance of Partey returning fit.

Could we have benefitted over the years sending a physio to Gabon to be with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang or Chile to be with Alexis Sanchez?

Arsenal might become trendsetters here – I am not sure if other clubs have done similar.

It would not be a huge surprise if club physios joined up with lesser nations in the future.

Manchester City physios in Algeria or Norway. Arsenal in Ghana. Liverpool in Egypt or Scotland.

And those nations will also benefit greatly having some of the best physios, medial staff or nutritionists join them for a couple of weeks. Teaching their home grow staff a thing or two. Everyone wins.

Now we just need Partey to return fully fit and ready for Leeds!



3 thoughts on “Arsenal physio in Ghana an example of Arteta’s marginal gain philosophy

  1. Ally

    Teaching their home grow staff a thing or two. Norway? Scotland? I think you’ll find medical standards in nations like that are equal to or higher than those in England. Very narrow minded view from you today. If you made the argument that the clubs medics no the medical history and treatment of a player better, then that might have been appropriate. But suggesting that non English nations need to learn from England is not appropriate


    1. Michael

      I was only about halfway through the article before having a bet with myself that there’d be at least one set of underwear getting bunched up in the comments! I can’t speak for Keenos, obviously, but I’m pretty sure that by “lesser nations”, he’s meaning to refer to The Premier League being awash with money and therefore having the best of the best resources, in this case human resources as physios and nutritionists etc. I don’t think he’s lauding “English” at all.


      1. keenosafc Post author

        Exactly. There is a reason why many billioanires across the globe to go more developed nations for critical health care. The physios, nutritionists, etc at Arsenal will be amongst the best in the world at what they do.


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