Pre-signing medicals. Why do I bother?
Another transfer deadline has passed and, as usual, there was a mad rush to sign players. Although, for us, this window was a lot quieter than previous ones. I dread that phonecall from the “powers that be” asking to prepare a medical for a new player, especially when there is just a day or even a few hours to carry it out.
A normal pre-signing medical usually covers one or two days. That’s because, after a full examination by the club doctor and/or physio, all the MRI scans and x-rays of their joints, heart screening, body composition testing and maybe even physical fitness testing, it can all take that long. If they have a long injury history, it can take even longer as more specialist advice maybe required.
This is usually done without access to the player’s medical records as he has been rapidly transported to you and there hasn’t been time to get hold of them. In reality, when there is a transfer deadline, I have been asked to do a medical with less than an hour to spare. Some of these last-minute deals are worth millions and there is no time to do an extensive medical.
So what’s the point?
Well, after all the in-depth analysis of their current state of health, you have to provide the board with a report, usually verbal. “Is the player fit then?” What does that mean? Is that knee that has had three operations over the past two years and only allowed the player to play 10 games in two seasons going to hold up for a three-year contract?
I have had a board ask a manager “Do you feel lucky?” when they were faced with a player with advanced arthritis in a knee and I couldn’t guarentee he would last the length of his proposed contract. They signed him, anyway. Why did I bother doing a thorough medical?
How many players have you heard of that fail a medical at one club only to pass a medical at another and then go on to play 70 games in three seasons! Are the medicals that are carried out different or is it that one club is willing to take the risk?
Why do we bother? Essentially, it gives the medical staff an opportunity to examine the player at that particular time, plan some prevention strategies, advise management on how to introduce them into full training and playing games and screen the player in case any incident was to happen in the future. All really useful data that allows the medics to look after the player.
The biggest indicator of whether you are signing a player who will pick up loads of injuries during his contract is whether they have had lots of injuries previously. This information is now easily accessible on the internet. So if you have only 10 minutes to do a medical, just “Google” it!