Andy Renshaw: Life after Liverpool
Written by Simon Austin — January 14, 2019
AFTER 16 years of working inside professional football, Andy Renshaw is back on civvy street.
It might feel strange to not be involved in a game on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon any more, but he’s enjoying his role as a consultant physio with the Harris and Ross clinic in Wilmslow.
“I’ve always wanted to have my own company and Jeff (Ross, owner of the clinic) has given me that opportunity with this consultancy,” Renshaw tells TGG. "I think we're coming at things from a different angle and can offer elite care to players of all levels and all ages."
Renshaw left Liverpool in November 2017, with the club paying tribute to a “key and loyal member of our medical team”. He’d been Head Physio for 18 months, but a member of staff for eight in total.
“I’m very proud of what we achieved both as a medical department and as a club as a whole,” he says. “It was a shame to leave and I can’t discuss the circumstances, but I left with a lot of friends and am still in touch with staff and players there.
“In my opinion, I worked at the biggest club in the world and in the biggest job in my field. I still support Liverpool and would be absolutely made up if they could win the league this season.”
Renshaw's permanent successor as Reds' Head Physio is Lee Nobes, who was lured away from champions Manchester City in November.
“To be willing to leave Manchester City speaks volumes, doesn’t it?” Renshaw smiles. “I’ve known Lee for a long time. He’s a good guy and is joining a fantastic club. I’m really happy for him, he'll love it.”
Renshaw’s career as a practitioner in professional football began in June 2002, when he was a 23-year-old sports scientist at a Bolton Wanderers side managed by Sam Allardyce.
“In my first few weeks I was mixing with Jay-Jay Okocha, Ivan Campo and Fernando Hierro,” he recalls, "it was amazing.
“We had an unbelievable team behind the scenes too. I was working with Mike Forde (the Performance Director who moved onto Chelsea), Mark Howard (S&C coach who is now Head of Sports Science at Burnley) and Mark Taylor (Head Physio who went on to become Head of Performance at both Fulham and Sunderland).
"Everyone was very forward thinking and Sam gave us the freedom to develop, but also backed and supported us too."
Renshaw worked his way up to become first team physio, before a call from Liverpool in the summer of 2009.
“Liverpool’s Head Physio, Dave Galley, phoned me and said, 'there's an opportunity to play your part in rebuilding our Academy'. Joining Liverpool was never something I was going to be able to turn down.”
What followed was six years in the Academy at Melwood, before he replaced the departing Chris Morgan in Galley’s old role of Head Physio in June 2016. By this time, Premier League backroom staffs had grown significantly compared to his early days in football.
“At Bolton, there were two of us as first team physios. At Liverpool, there were nine of us and two sports therapists. In the Academy, we had six physios and I think 16 part-time in total.
“Every year clubs get bigger, so every year we have to involve more people, which can be difficult. I’ve been lucky though, because the vast majority of people I’ve worked with have been really good.”
Renshaw’s experiences at both Bolton and Liverpool have strongly influenced his approach at Harris and Ross, where he’s developing the football side of the business, with clients ranging from amateur to Premier League footballers.
“I came in and said 'I think there’s an opportunity here',” he says. “The clubs want to provide the best care they can, but are often not given the resources or manpower to deliver what they want to.
“Whenever a referral comes to me, the first thing I do is ensure that the club knows what’s going on. I’ve been on the other side of the fence and know how it feels if your player is going off for treatment and you don't fully know what's going on.
“There’s no longevity in what I’m doing if I’m underhand.”
Renshaw says club practitioners have to deal with “external people trying to market their services to players” and that “sometimes you don’t know what you’re sending them to".
“There are people chipping into players’ ears – it could be a parent, agent, brother, sister, someone they knew growing up, someone they’ve seen on Instagram – and this leads to them going to someone outside the club.
“There are people advertising their services as rehab experts, fitness coaches, performance gurus. They can’t use the word psychologist without the right qualifications, but they’ll use similar terms.
“The credentials might not be vetted, but if they get stuck into a player, the club often has very little option but to tolerate it. We’ve all seen the mad stories in the media about different techniques being applied which, to us evidence-based practitioners, would open to question.
“I’m very conscious that what I do is run by and overseen by the club medical staff, so there is complete clarity about that player’s management.”
An associated issue is player power, which Renshaw says has become more prominent.
“As a club practitioner, are you going to have to do what the Head of Medical or Head of Performance want, or what the player wants? Player power has increased and, speaking to lads in the professional game, it's a challenge for them.”
Renshaw's ultimate aim in his new role is to “provide elite quality care and rehab services for players of any age at any level” and he’s getting satisfaction from working with players at the bottom of the football pyramid as well as the ones at the top.
“There are semi-pro, amateur players, who miss months and months with injuries,” he says, “and if they can get the right decisions early on and access to the right treatment it can save them a lot of time and future problems.
“That's our aim. I spent a lot of time in my career within the Academy system as well and young players can get access to the same service too. There are so many out there who just don’t get it.”