Departing Canary physio Neal Reynolds today laid out just why he was heading for pastures new this summer – and why he might have City loan star Martin Taylor to thank this autumn.
Reynolds became the latest member of Glenn Roeder's back-room team to walk out of the door at Colney this week when he accepted a new role with Premiership giants Arsenal – an opportunity that, he said, was simply too good to refuse.
But with Roeder's behind-the-scenes reshuffle having already seen Reynolds' two assistant physios leave the Norfolk club – Rod Dyer and Peter Shaw – so the club are left without a physio department five weeks ahead of the start of pre-season.
“I'd spoken to Glenn and he'd said that I was very much part of his plans,” said Reynolds, as the Canaries find themselves with another situation vacant this summer.
“But in many ways, to stay would have been the easy option. I've always said that I'm quite ambitious and I just felt that if I didn't take this opportunity now then I might come to regret it later.”
It is, clearly, quite an opportunity.
For one thing Reynolds gets to watch long-time England physio Gary Lewin go to work on a daily basis – as well as getting his hands on the state-of-the-art equipment and facilities that come as part of the Gunners' new training HQ near Shenley, on the northern outskirts of London.
“As you'd expect, the facilities are immaculate,” he said. “Don't get me wrong – the facilities at Colney are brilliant for a Championship club. But – if you pardon the pun – the facilities at Arsenal are in a different league again.”
What you won't see is Reynolds running onto the pitch at The Emirates, the 21st Century equivalent of the magic sponge in his hand.
His role is far more Shenley-based; giving the club's longer-term injured a continuity of care that they possibly lack as Lewin follows Arsene Wenger on their Champions League travels.
Not that Reynolds will be wholly north London based. As part of that 'continuity of care' idea, he will be charged with over-seeing the long-term, rehabilitation work of the more stricken Arsenal stars. A certain Eduardo principal amongst them as the 25-year-old continues his lengthy rehab following the frightening double leg fracture he received courtesy of 'Tiny' Taylor's ill-timed tackle. Rehab that finds the Gunners' star back home in Brazil.
“It's going to be a very different kind of role,” said Reynolds, already savouring the prospect of checking up on Eduardo's progress – on the beaches of Rio.
“It's a new role that they have designed in that a full-time, experienced physio stays at home at Shenley and looks after everybody – that you don't travel off to games in-between. So what I'll be giving up is that whole 'match-day' scenario. You don't even do reserve team games – it's wholly training ground based.”
“That is one of the appeals,” admitted Reynolds, ready to reach for his passport. “Eduardo is actually home in Brazil right now doing his rehabilitation work there and that may well be another part of the role.
“To go out there and have a look at how their rehab treatment compares and how he's actually progressing. And, of course, Arsenal do have a lot more foreign players who tend to go back to Spain, France, Holland or wherever for their rehab.”
Although as far as the Canaries are concerned, being without a physio department at all is not ideal, it is hard to pin much of the blame on Reynolds. Given the chance to watch Eduardo test his rebuilt leg on the beaches of Rio or travel to Turf Moor on a Tuesday night with the Canaries is not much of a decision.
He will, however, leave with a lot of good memories. “I've been very lucky in that in my time at Norwich they have not been seven, 'standard' Championship years,” said Reynolds, with a play-off final and a promotion season to remember.
“And it has been great. You do become very close to a lot of the players – particularly those with the longer-term injuries like Adam [Drury] who you are working with on a daily basis.
“But I see this move to Arsenal as a promotion – without a shadow of a doubt,” he added. “They are one of the top three clubs in this country – if not Europe and it would have been stupid to turn them down.
“I've been very lucky – in my seven years here I've had some brilliant times and some not so brilliant times. But being in the Premier League for that one season gave me a taste for what it is all about. And I just felt I need to challenge myself – it would have been easy just to carry on.”
Reynolds will head for north London with at least one player wishing him every success in his new role – former Burnley winger Glenn Little, who swallowed his tongue in a Turf Moor clash with the Canaries and but for the City's physio's prompt response might not have lived to tell the tale.
“That was probably the most dramatic injury I've had to deal with,” said Reynolds. “People describe it as swallowing your tongue, but actually it's more a case of the tongue sitting back over your air-way.
“I think he went up for a header with Darren Kenton and you knew instantly that something had happened – and it was right in front of me. It's one of those situations that you're trained for, but you don't ever really want to see. And when it does come along, then you just hope that you get it right…”
He did. As Glenn Little would, no doubt, gratefully confirm.
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