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Football News: The Impact of injuries on a club like Manchester United

The Impact of injuries on a club like Manchester United

I've seen a few people be quite dismissive of the injury crisis at Manchester United. Personally, I think it's because we only ever see some posters when the chips are down and all they want to do is pile into the manager. When we hire a new manager, they complain it's the wrong appointment. They then disappear when things appear to get better, only to return again every time we have a bad run of form to complain about the manager. Surely they must either be trolls just on the wind up, or people desperate for validation needing to come on to say "I told you so" as some form of kudos to themselves. I don't know, it takes all sorts.

Either way, the basis of their argument seems to be "injuries happen", which of course they do. But that does not mean injuries impact every squad evenly. Firstly, timing of injuries and to which players matter. Your second choice GK getting injured just before you play a relegation candidate at home will obviously be less impactful than your best/ key player picking up an injury before playing a top four side away. Likewise, a player picking up a small injury that will keep them out for two weeks will hit differently just before an international break as opposed to a the two weeks Christmas schedule.

So it's fairly obvious that factors such as which player(s) and how important they are for the team, the length of time and the timing of the injuries, as well as the schedule of which games they miss are all irrefutable determining factors in exactly how impactful the injuries suffered by a side are. Meaning that just being dismissive that injuries "just happen" is really selective ignorance because not all injuries impact clubs evenly.

In relation to our club, there are many factors that make this injury crisis particularly impactful. The sheer number of injuries stands out as somewhat excessive, as well as the distribution of those injuries (4 of the 5 first team full backs being out of example) . The timing of the injuries are annoyingly disruptive, getting so many defenders injured while trying to settle a new keeper and alter the way the defence plays is making it harder than it would ordinarily be. The timing in terms of the schedule has also been problematic, playing two top four rivals away from home, as well as our toughest UCL fixture.

The final issue, which really is the elephant in the room when it comes to explaining why injuries affect us to a greater extent, is the fact that we actually have a pretty poor squad overall. Meaning that the quality of players and the variety of tactics are both severely limited by injuries.

In order to understand just how poor our squad is I've broken the squad down into three main categories, however there are a further two sub categories to those three. It might sound more complicated than it is. But here we go:

Category 1, players who are good enough for a title winning EPL side. That isn't good enough to be on the bench, but players who have enough quality to be starting players in a title winning side. I've gone for title winning side as that is exactly what we should be aiming for.

Category 2, players good enough to play as a squad player in a EPL title winning side. Players who are decent rotation options, but there is a question mark over whether they are or could be good enough to be first choice for a title winning side. There will be a couple of players in this category that you might be able to make an argument that they could step up to category 1. However, they are here as they haven't yet shown the consistency needed across their career.

Category 3, players who are not good enough either as first choice or as squad players for a title winning side. These are the guys who clearly and obviously bring the overall quality of the side down when they play.

I've also said there will be a couple of sub-categories. These are to do with players at either end of their careers, either young unproven players (These will all feature in category 2 or 3 as they none have obviously proven themselves to be good enough, consistently enough to be in the top category) . Then consequently you have players at the other end of the age scale, players whose career's are either about to/ or have started to decline. I've thought it important to highlight these players as although they might be good enough this season, they are likely to need replacing either next summer or the summer after.

Category 1:


Sub-category - Aging: Casemiro, Varane, Eriksen.

That's 6 players who I think we can say are good enough, of which 3 will likely need replacing soon. So really 3 probably by the start of next season.

Category 2:


Reguilon (although only a loan player)

Sub-category - Young unproven: Hojlund*, Garnacho*, Amad, Pellistri, Hannibal, Mainoo*.

Sub-category - Aging: Heaton, Evans.

The players with an * next to them are the ones I think might be able to step up to the top category with either the right players around them or over time if they can reach their potential. The others I don't see as ever being good enough for the top category but are good enough as a squad player. Heaton and Evans again for the roles they are playing (good professional, solid squad player but unlikely to play many games) are probably good enough. But again almost certainly won't be here on the opening day of next season.

Category 3:


None of these players are good enough or able to make a positive impact either due to injury or mentality. All of them need to just head out of the club.

That is our squad, 6 who are good enough of which three will/ are declining and will need replacing within the next 2 windows. Maybe four players who I think could realistically step up in a better squad (Amrabat, Rashford, Mount and Shaw) . Antony, Dalot and Malacia might be able to, but I have my doubts. Then there are three young players I really have high hopes for (Hojlund, Garnacho and Mainoo) . Hannibal, Pellistri and Amad I think will probably stay as good squad players but never really step up to being good enough to be first choice in a title winning side.

To really finish in the top 2 or 3 places and mount a serious title challenge, you will need a minimum of 9 or 10 players who are good enough for a title winning side. We have 6 (3 of which are not long-term options) . We have 4 or 5 players that if they can step up could maybe get up to that 9 or 10 players. as well as three really high potential youngsters, but they are a few years away from making that step up to being first choice for a title winning side. By which time the likes of Casemiro, Varane and Eriksen will definitely not be in that top category.

So you can see that realistically we need at least another 4 or 5 top class players good enough for the very best to even be in the mix to finish 2nd or 3rd (or at least within 10 points of the eventual winners) this season. Next season that will likely be 7 or 8 needed as the likes of Casemiro and co will need replacing.

If we play to our ability, this squad should finish 4th or 5th (depending on how well others play), 3rd would represent this squad playing as greater than the sum of its parts (or possibly other teams having particularly bad seasons).

When you realise what this squad is, where it's at and how much still needs to be done, it becomes abundantly clear why a significant number of injuries is particularly detrimental and might impact us more than other sides.

Written by Shappy October 02 2023 19:43:47


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