Donachie leaves Everton's medical staff

Thursday, 11 November, 2021 33comments  |  Jump to last
Dan Donachie has left his role as Everton's Director of Medical as Rafael Benitez continues to make changes to the staff at Finch Farm.

This was Donachie's second spell with the club, the first spanning 2001 to 2015, largely working under David Moyes, and the second coming when he returned in 2018 from a stint at Aston Villa.

The move follows Benitez's hiring of fitness and rehabilitation coach Cristian Fernandez with whom he worked at Newcastle United.

Donachie posted his goodbyes on Twitter today, saying: “Too many life long friends to mention. You know who you are. I have been inspired by all of you time after time. My spirit will never be the same.

“What an incredible privilege to have been a custodian of this great club for so long. Separated by distance but never heart.”  

Reader Comments (33)

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Danny O’Neill
1 Posted 11/11/2021 at 15:29:51
I appreciate not all are subscribed to the Athletic, but this is an interesting story that broke today.

"Everton's head of medical services leaves after Benitez-led review of injuries to key players"

"Everton have parted company with their Director of Medical Services, Danny Donachie after new manager Rafa Benitez ordered a review of the club's injury record for key players"

Apparently Donachie is on "leave" as the club finalise details of his departure.

Benitez's influence starting to take control? Remember his cryptic message to the board a few weeks ago? Or is it what he negotiated with the owners in the summer anyway?

As well as the early season on the pitch stuff that was enjoyable. We could well end up liking this guy. He's not any Evertonian, but he seems prepared to give the club the kick up the arse it needs.

Kieran Kinsella
2 Posted 11/11/2021 at 15:52:06

Do you remember when Martinez took over and he said similar things about injuries and went on about how he was a physio himself and Donachie was pushed out? The injuries did not improve and later on we brought Donachie back? He seems to have been wrapped up in this injury debate for years. Moyes seemed to rate him but it appears he’s gone from hero to villain to hero and now back to villain again?

Ken Kneale
3 Posted 11/11/2021 at 17:23:14
Danny/Kieran - I raised Donachie's departure on another thread around a week ago - I was then and continue to be reliably informed Benitez was 'furious' with him over how medical and injury matters are handled at the club and a showdown led to the manager pulling rank as it were - no doubt more evidence as many on TW comment, of the power struggle going on within the walls of FF and GP currently.

As you suggest Danny, outward signs of long-standing links but we now have a manager who has wider latitude on hiring and firing than some immediate predecessors - it will be interesting to see further moves on the chessboard and how they signal where the power base lies.

Jerome Shields
4 Posted 11/11/2021 at 23:36:06
Medical Services has been a bone of contention for me for some time. Recurring injuries, rest, recovery, botched rehab and a soft touch for players who do not want to play.

Benitez had to take on this bastion of Finch Farm. It was having an adverse effect on training, especially in the building of resilience in players.

Derek Taylor
5 Posted 11/11/2021 at 23:51:53
Chaos reigns! Hiring and firing was always a Benitez speciality over the park; how long until we see our heroes swathed in Red?
Don Alexander
6 Posted 12/11/2021 at 00:43:53
Derek (#5), I look forward to them not being swathed in Kenwright, a fate even worse than "red".
John Pickles
7 Posted 12/11/2021 at 00:50:18
Vacancy at Jean-Philippe’s and Fabian's Card School, please send applications to Finch Farm.
Paul Hewitt
8 Posted 12/11/2021 at 08:45:29
I see Benitez has ordered a review of all our medical department. Why are we getting so many injuries? Finally a manager who wants to improve us.
Jerome Shields
9 Posted 12/11/2021 at 09:47:07
Has anyone got a update on Mina? He was Donachie's big mate. He has been recovering overseas after the International break alone, from a hamstring injury. If he is not back yet, imo it would be advisable to get his ass back to Finch Farm as soon as possible.
Barry Hesketh
10 Posted 12/11/2021 at 09:51:58
Jerome @9,

I don't think Mina has been recovering overseas as you state, there are pictures on the Everton OS that clearly show him joining in training at Finch Farm. He might be fit to return to duty at The Etihad next week?

Joe McMahon
11 Posted 12/11/2021 at 09:53:33
I thought Everton's medical staff was the local scouts group managed by Norman Wisdom.
Jerome Shields
12 Posted 12/11/2021 at 10:06:52
This announcement lends itself to being fashious.

It could explain the go slow Everton after the International break and then the sudden raised game in the last match. Benitez prepared to take on a Kenwright appointment and winning, will put the shit up a few others at Finch Farm that think they are secure and have now found support waning for their efforts to mount resistance. Benitez was not happy when he gave "the need for improvement in all areas" speech on the Friday before the Watford game.

It's early November and he has paraphrased Ancelottis 'work and effort' speech and shifted the Head of Medical Services.

It is clear he is taking on the Everton comfortable culture, which should bring results. But his potential for success is limited by the internal management outside Finch Farm being a no-go area and outside his remit.

Still, it is a good start, Unsworth next please.

Nick Page
13 Posted 12/11/2021 at 10:09:15
Did this fella mend technicolor dreamcoats for Bill?
Jerome Shields
14 Posted 12/11/2021 at 10:14:56
Barry #10,

It was reported a couple of weeks ago he was not. I am glad he is back at Finch Farm. Thank you for the update.

Kieran Kinsella
15 Posted 12/11/2021 at 14:21:35
I'm not a physio but wonder if Injuries have a lot to do with training. Moyes used a small squad and praised Donachie. Martinez and Rafa obviously thought differently. Maybe Moyes's training and fitness levels made people less susceptible to injuries? I just think it's odd this guy is hailed as a magician by some and ridiculed as a charlatan by others.
Jerome Shields
16 Posted 12/11/2021 at 15:55:01
Kieran #15,

Maybe this quote from Darren Burgess explains the most up-to-date thinking. Donachie belonged to the old school of Rest and Recovery. The only thing is, Finch Farm become a holiday camp. It looks like there was an attitude of "Go to Medical Services and get out of training. "

"I think there was a reluctance of some of the people involved to use hard training as protection, and so instead they'd do more rest and recovery. Because that was the easy option. It's easier to sell to players, in particular.

"Essentially there's been a fair bit of research that shows that if you can build up players' resilience to hard training, that the impact of a game becomes less and less because your body is accustomed to it.

"Hard work is the best form of injury prevention and injury protection. You should be slowly but deliberately building up people's training tolerance because then, in December and January, when the games come thick and fast, the players are used to it.

"The players often ran the place. In a lot of clubs, masseurs and physios in particular, as they spend a lot of time with players and provide them some relief, can develop really strong relationships.

"That can make it a little bit harder for people — doctors, physios and other therapists — to have the really difficult conversations. "

Darren Burgess, High Performance Manager.

Benitez belongs to the hard training school of thought. He has had his sleeves rolled up to train and wondered why there was not a full quota of players present, only to find they had been at Medical Services. He then blew a gasket.

Kieran Kinsella
17 Posted 12/11/2021 at 16:01:39

I don't know who Darren Burgess is but, if true, that makes sense. Maybe Moyes had more clout so players didn't play sickie?

Jerome Shields
18 Posted 12/11/2021 at 16:12:55
Kieran #17

He was brought in as High Performance Manager at Liverpool and then was, on the recommendation of Wenger, head-hunted by Arsenal to smooth over the transition of Wenger leaving. Emery sacked him which lead to Emery's downfall, such was the opinion at that time.

Burgess then had family problems and went back to Australia. My daughter taught his daughter in Adelaide. He devours performance stats according to my daughter.

Kieran, they worked for two games for Moyes and then had a rest the third game, resulting in under-performance. Moyes suited all at Finch Farm down to the ground.

The other thing is attitudes have moved on. The top Clubs are into hard training, rather than rest and recovery.

Kieran Kinsella
19 Posted 12/11/2021 at 16:51:03

That's interesting info. Makes a lot of sense.

Dale Self
20 Posted 12/11/2021 at 16:56:58
Second that Jerome, good stuff.
Jerome Shields
21 Posted 12/11/2021 at 20:03:07
Actually it was Benitez who appointed Darren Burgess as High Performance Manager at Liverpool. But Benitez was sacked just as he was about to start in June 2010. Hadn't realised that, so Benitez definitely belongs to the Hard Training School.
Andrew Merrick
22 Posted 12/11/2021 at 22:09:10
Very interesting thread, having heard many comments on fitness, injuries and recovery over the last few years, it will be Illuminating to see how much change our current manager can effect...

As Kieran said, Martinez wanted a new look at this, but that didn't last very long. Maybe this time it will...

Derek Knox
23 Posted 13/11/2021 at 04:04:08
Don @ 6,

Glad to see you're back on form, mate, I was getting worried about you!

The little group who I meet with after the home games were talking about this, well not this particular appointment but, in general, how many ex-players etc have cushy jobs behind the scenes at Everton? Maybe too cushy!

Maybe this is the start of the long-awaited cull, and how long before they get to the Chairman? Oh, wait a minute – he has it for life... but, if memory serves, he said he was going to stand down 'for health reasons' – that was about 3 or 4 years ago.

I think most of our collective health would improve, and the performances on and off the pitch, after the Spanish Inquisition led by Inquisitor in Chief, Torquemada Benitez, kicks in.

Hopefully no-one will torquemada out of anything! :-) Sorry, but stole that line from Mel Brooks's Film History of the World, Part 2.

Derek Taylor
24 Posted 13/11/2021 at 09:37:39
Benitez is steadily replacing long serving staff with his Newcastle gang. I can't see much in the Barcode's achievements whilst in his care that excites me... and blaming the catalogue of long-term injuries on the medicos is a well-trodden path by these mercenary managers.

I rather suspect they – and him – will be well gone by season's end!

Tony Abrahams
25 Posted 13/11/2021 at 10:01:00
When a footballer is injured long term, it is generally up to them how quickly they want to get back playing, IMO, Derek.

Gomes was back well before expected, and so was Lucas Digne last season, but it's probably a longer-term culture that Jerome talks about in one of his previous posts, that Benitez will be looking to change.

It seems that nowadays, players don't always love you when they're playing!

Danny O’Neill
26 Posted 13/11/2021 at 10:35:17
That last one from Tony is accurate in my opinion.

Some players just want to play again as soon as they can. I know it wasn't at a great level (Army Youth), but I played 6 weeks after breaking my ankle and 2 weeks after coming out of plaster.

The combination of training and playing helped my longer-term recovery and building the strength back into my left leg (which remained skinnier than my right one for years, which I got ribbed for!!). I was young and resilient, which also plays a part.

I know that doesn't work for every injury or every player, but there's a mentality aspect to fitness, injury and recovery.

No insider knowledge here, but was it Louis Saha who just wouldn't play unless he considered himself 100% fit? And there was a talented footballer and striker. If only he'd have played more often.

Jerome Shields
27 Posted 13/11/2021 at 14:53:43

It's more a issue of being available for training rather than injury. Players do get injured, but if this can be prevented and recover faster it's advantage in now preferred smaller squads.

Things have come to ahead over the International break which has possibly been treated more as a time for rest than training. Everton have been a yard short imo often after a International. break.

What also comes to mind is how much of a influence medical services had a say on training, Which in Benitez case was the opposite of what he wanted. I am sure he tried to encourage change, but was faced with Donahie , who was confident enough to oppose him. He has been suspended as terms of his departure are worked out, not a mutual agreement. So the team that was sent out after the International was not a team prepared as Benitez would have like. How many others at Finch Farm are confident to run things opposed to the Manager ?

Steve Carse
28 Posted 13/11/2021 at 18:44:26
I suspect much of what's being written here includes a fair amount of guesswork. New managers love to bring with them those they've worked with before.

Doing my own bit of guesswork, I would suspect that Benitez would have sought to avoid losing out on the gig by doing a Nuno and telling the Board he'd be wanting to bring his team of 6 helpers with him if appointed...

So Benitez has been clever in getting his feet under the table first before telling the club he'd be bringing in his own medical boys after all. He did the same at Liverpool in 2009-10, on this occasion, clearing out the whole of the medical section in one fell swoop.

Harry Wallace
29 Posted 13/11/2021 at 18:54:45
I questioned the medical department a few weeks ago in a comment and it wasn’t published so interesting how this has happened. I was clearly correct to raise the point that we get a lot of injuries and we need to improve every area.
Harry Wallace
30 Posted 13/11/2021 at 19:29:31
For me, the Echo podcast highlights our problem. Most were like “nice guy, popular at club. With players and his dad worked for club”. So what? Our club is full of “good mates” so it's an easy ride there. Time to improve every area and “good lad who knows club” isn't good enough.
John Raftery
32 Posted 14/11/2021 at 00:07:20
There may be a touch of ‘last electrician/plumber syndrome' in all this. I have no idea what training or rehabilitation methods have been used at Finch Farm or how they compare with those at other clubs.

All the top clubs have access to massive amounts of data on every player in terms of weight, heart rate, VO2 max, average pace, sprints, distances run, etc, etc. I find it hard to imagine any player could get away with not attaining the level of fitness required as standard. Only a few weeks ago some fans commented on how much fitter our players looked this season. Generally, players will look fitter when they are winning games, less so when they are losing.

As regards injuries, players need to be fit enough to cope with the training before they get anywhere near playing a match. Plainly many of our recruits in recent seasons were nowhere near able to cope. Hence the lengthy catalogue of calf, hamstring, quad and groin strains sustained in training. A new approach may pay dividends. Time will tell.

Jack Convery
33 Posted 16/11/2021 at 17:46:03
Any player not pulling his weight because he misses Donachie should be shown the door in January. We only want winners, not whingers.
Barry McNally
34 Posted 19/11/2021 at 21:52:19
I wonder if it's anything to do with DCL's current injury - he seemed to be back in training weeks ago fromblooking at some of the Twitter videos - then maybe a set-back due to coming back too early?

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