Injuries and United's unbalanced squad

Mark Pawelek

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Instead of focusing energy, time and resources to fix the broken squad, we obsess on getting another expensive 'magic signing'. I'm not against signing stars like Bruno Fernandes, I'm against the hype-train and under investment in the squad. I against ignoring systemic problems.

United have a number of injury prone players in the squad. Each injury prone player
  • develops far more slowly than fit players because you can't develop, as a sportsman, while your leg is in plaster.
  • they are also unavailable for selection much of the time
  • they are relatively expensive because they play fewer matches for the same pay as fitter players.
It only makes sense keeping an injury prone player if they are a special talent, and have relatively rare skills. Otherwise all the injury prone players should be replaced with younger, fitter, players. I know this is brutal, and heartless; but that's what it costs to win. Yet 3 transfer windows in, Ole still has a relatively injury prone squad! Management should've fixed this last summer by bringing in young, developing players to replace established, frequently injured, players.

Totals: -- Injuries -- days lost -- matches missed -- % lost
Luke Shaw ----- 11 -------- 695 -------- 114 --------- 25
Phil Jones ---- 20 -------- 744 -------- 135 --------- 20
Diogo Dalot ---- 4 -------- 288 --------- 39 --------- 19
Marcos Rojo --- 18 -------- 751 -------- 102 --------- 15
Eric Bailly ---- 7 -------- 362 --------- 72 --------- 13


These are the outstanding candidates to replace. They're all defenders. Why? They should be replaced with relatively cheap, up-and-coming players. Such as:
Owen Wijndal ---- D-Left ------ AZ Alkmaar
Robin Koch ------ D-Centre ---- Freiburg
Sven Botman ----- D-Centre ---- SC Heerenveen (Ajax)


These 3 are not my 'targets'. They are examples of players no worse than those I want to replace who are relatively injury free, and inexpensive. We should not need 6 centre-backs in our squad, but because 4 of them have indifferent injury records we do! That means we can't have 3 centre forwards, and 2 right-wingers. Because rules limit the squad size to 25 players. That's, normally 2 for each position, plus another goalie. Plus 2 more.

The FIRST priority must be for move out injured players. Send them out on loan if no one wants to buy them. If no one wants them on loan send them out to Dubai to recuperate.

PS: Injury data from TransferMrkt. '% lost' is my calculation, of total time out injured in player's adult career; if anything, it's an underestimate.

To all those people who want to blame this on Ole. It is not Ole's fault. It is Woodward's fault. Had Woodward signed a Director of Football 6 years ago, we'd not have this problem making our squad so unbalanced.
 
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EwanI Ted

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You're assuming here than an injury record is something inherent to the player, rather than a consequence of their training regime or the fitness coaches. I dont think that should be assumed. While some players are certainly prone to injuries throughout their career - look at Jack Wilshire - that doesn't apply to everyone. If the issue is how the club handles players, you can bring in all the players with good fitness records you want, they'll just start getting injured too.
 

The Boy

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I feel a it sorry for Shaw in that, as I presume a huge chunk (maybe 50%) is from when he had that horrendous leg break, that sort of thing is nobodies fault.

The other thing is context of the injuries, are they the same problem recurring, if so the player is obviously injury prone. But if it's a hamstring, followed by a knee issue, followed by a broken finger and then a virus for example then they are unrelated and bad luck.
 

Mark Pawelek

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You're assuming here than an injury record is something inherent to the player, rather than a consequence of their training regime or the fitness coaches. I dont think that should be assumed. While some players are certainly prone to injuries throughout their career - look at Jack Wilshire - that doesn't apply to everyone. If the issue is how the club handles players, you can bring in all the players with good fitness records you want, they'll just start getting injured too.
If it's the fault of the coaches, fix that. Sack them and replace them with coaches who keep United's squad fitter. But LvG and Mourinho both had the same issue with injuries. At one stage, LvG had 10 or 12 players out injured at the same time.

If you have evidence to blame it on a particular fitness regime or coaching method then please cite it. Otherwise, you're basically making it up. I'm assuming the simplest explanation because no one with a complicated explanation can be bothered to back up what they say with evidence.
 

Baneofthegame

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I feel a it sorry for Shaw in that, as I presume a huge chunk (maybe 50%) is from when he had that horrendous leg break, that sort of thing is nobodies fault.

The other thing is context of the injuries, are they the same problem recurring, if so the player is obviously injury prone. But if it's a hamstring, followed by a knee issue, followed by a broken finger and then a virus for example then they are unrelated and bad luck.
Agree with this, I’m assuming it’s since they joined the club? Rojos is appalling.
 

Mark Pawelek

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I feel a it sorry for Shaw in that, as I presume a huge chunk (maybe 50%) is from when he had that horrendous leg break, that sort of thing is nobodies fault.

The other thing is context of the injuries, are they the same problem recurring, if so the player is obviously injury prone. But if it's a hamstring, followed by a knee issue, followed by a broken finger and then a virus for example then they are unrelated and bad luck.
I'm happy to give players 1 or 2 free injuries. For example, Chong was out for 300 straight days in his first season with us. Give him a free pass on that one. But Jones and Rojo? 20, and 18 injuries respectively. Time for them to go.
 

Mark Pawelek

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Agree with this, I’m assuming it’s since they joined the club? Rojos is appalling.
The data is career-wise. TransferMrkt injury data is not systematic; they only keep injury data on important, mature players. Lot's of early career injuries to young players are ignored by them. One or two important injuries to young players are there (Chong and Taylor); but most injuries to young players are not. For example they have a blank for Ethan Laird.
 

The Boy

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I'm happy to give players 1 or 2 free injuries. For example, Chong was out for 300 straight days in his first season with us. Give him a free pass on that one. But Jones and Rojo? 20, and 18 injuries respectively. Time for them to go.
Jones:
4 hamstrings
2 sprained ankles
2 ankle injuries
1 toe injury
1 knee injury
1 concussion
1 ill
1 venous occlusion (eye and retina problem)
1 shoulder injury
1 shinbone injury

He did his hamstring once in 14/15 twice in 17/18 and once 18/19 - I don't know if you can a tendency to hamstring injuries if so then I'd agree with Jones, but i think most posters would anyway despite the injuries. The others seem to be a run of extremely bad luck.

Bailly:
1 knee surgery
1 ankle injury
1 bruise (kept him out for 21 days!)
1 knee injury (3 years before the knee surgery, could be related but equally might not be)
1 thigh problems
1 shoulder injury
1 hamstring injury

Apart from the knee Bailly's injuries seem totally unrelated, so again could be rotten luck, but like Jones I think many posters would prefer to see him go despite the injury record.

EDIT - these are all injuries while at United rather than full career and the info comes from Transfer Markt
 

EwanI Ted

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If it's the fault of the coaches, fix that. Sack them and replace them with coaches who keep United's squad fitter. But LvG and Mourinho both had the same issue with injuries. At one stage, LvG had 10 or 12 players out injured at the same time.

If you have evidence to blame it on a particular fitness regime or coaching method then please cite it. Otherwise, you're basically making it up. I'm assuming the simplest explanation because no one with a complicated explanation can be bothered to back up what they say with evidence.
Nothing I hate more than when someone starts a thread with zero intention of actually having discussing the topic in question.
 

Mark Pawelek

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Its called reasoning. Look it up.
I don't work at United. I'm not privy to gossip and rumours. I prefer reasoning backed by evidence. Without evidence, it's just your opinion against mine. Neither opinions need be right. We could, both be wrong, and both have suggestions to make things worse. All because we never bothered to test our ideas out against the real world. To back our ideas with evidence.

You can see I'm not a great believer in logic for itself. Somehow every great thinker in logic seems to have messed it up when proposing solutions to real world problems. From Plato onwards, to Marx and beyond. You should have your reasoning discussion with someone else. Without good evidence, I don't trust myself to screen out my own bias. If I don't trust myself (despite studying logic, philosophy, thinking, modelling, computer program design, operations research, ...), then why would I trust your reasoning? I'm basically a skeptic who defines skepticism as that movement beginning in Europe in the 17th century. A skepticism which gave us the Scientific Revolution and the European Enlightenment; the 2 greatest achievements of civilization. Based on the maxim: "I don't believe your reasoning. Show me the real world evidence." Of course, I know, the Greeks invented skepticism, but 17th century Europeans perfected it by adding the simple demand "show me the real world evidence".
 
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WolfInSharp'sClothing

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When so many different managers have tried and failed to improve certain players, it's clearly down to the player, not the circumstance.

From an outsider's perspective, you need to have a massive cull of deadwood really and maybe a cull of under-performing high-earners. It must be very frustrating seeing players who will never be fit enough or good enough, rewarded with new contracts!

If I were doing an analysis of your current squad, from a neutral objective perspective, it'd look something like this.....

Keep - 1st XI

Wan-Bisakka, Maguire, Fernandes, Rashford

Keep - Squad

Romero, Dalot, Lindelof, Williams, McTominay, Fred, James, Greenwood

Question Marks

De Gea - Do his performances match his cost? Could he be sold and replaced for less cost? Maybe. But keep him for now.
Pogba - Is his heart really in it? Does his contribution justify his cost? Hard to say whilst he's injured, but I expect another summer of speculation fuelled by his agent. Keep him, but only if he wants to stay.
Martial - Is he ever going to be consistent enough? He's not as good as Rashford on the left and probably not good enough down the middle for what you need? Could selling him be the best option? Maybe, but keep him as backup/competition for now
Mata - Where does he fit in? Not dynamic enough to play as your number 10, not fast enough to play on the wing, not combative enough to play in midfield. Unless you change how you play, he doesn't fit in. But will save buying a player to act as backup, so keep him for now.

100% Bin Off ASAP


Jones - Appalling player
Bailly - Could be good, but too injury prone
Lingard - I think he's come as far as he can with Man United
Pereira - Mid-table Prem at best
Rojo - How is he even still on your books?
Shaw - He's just not going to get to the levels expected prior to his leg-break. Too bulky to be a modern full-back. Maybe should look to covert to a left-sided CB?
Matic - Too cumbersome, not dynamic enough to play in your midfield
Sanchez - Forgot what Ole says, bin him off

You might raise about £100m for this lot off your West Hams/Evertons/Italian clubs.

To Buy

A new left-back - maybe a good, solid PL performer, in need of a fresh start - Marcos Alonso? Might cost £25m? Would give you a good couple season or two before Williams takes over as first choice.
A new centre-back - Ruben Dias would get in any PL side, but would cost £80m +. At 23 (by the start of next season), he'd be worth every penny.
1 new defensive-midfielder - maybe Bakary Soumare? Would probably be available for £40m? He looks like a new Pogba in the making, but can play the DM role very well.
A new striker - Timo Werner for around £80m. Unless you get Poch and he can persuade Kane to join him!
A new right winger - Jadon Sancho would transform your team. By all accounts, he'd cost about £100m?

Total spend - £325m

So that would leave you with:

GK: De Gea/Romero
RB: Wan-Bisakka/Dalot
CB: Dias/Lindelof
CB: Maguire/Tuanzebe
LB: Alonso/Williams
CM: Soumare/McTominay
CM: Pogba/Fred
CM: Fernandes/Mata
RW: Sancho/James
LW: Rashford/Martial
CF: Werner/Greenwood

That side easily makes the top 4 and might challenge the status quo.

Net spend of £225m? Might be too much? Could look at a cheaper option in RW/CB positions.

But that is what it's going to take.

Oh, and Poch too. That bit is really crucial.
 

EwanI Ted

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I don't work at United. I'm not privy to gossip and rumours. I prefer reasoning backed by evidence. Without evidence, it's just your opinion against mine. Neither opinions need be right. We could, both be wrong, and both have suggestions to make things worse. All because we never bothered to test our ideas out against the real world. To back our ideas with evidence.

You can see I'm not a great believer in logic for itself. Somehow every great thinker in logic seems to have messed it up when proposing solutions to real world problems. From Plato onwards, to Marx and beyond. You should have your reasoning discussion with someone else. Without good evidence, I don't trust myself to screen out my own bias. If I don't trust myself (despite studying logic, philosophy, thinking, modelling, computer program design, operations research, ...), then why would I trust your reasoning? I'm basically a skeptic who defines skepticism as that movement beginning in Europe in the 17th century. A skepticism which gave us the Scientific Revolution and the European Enlightenment; the 2 greatest achievements of civilization. Based on the maxim: "I don't believe your reasoning. Show me the real world evidence." Of course, I know, the Greeks invented skepticism, but 17th century Europeans perfected it by added the simple demand "show me the real world evidence".
Ok. Your claim here then is that the only reason players get injured is because they're injury prone. For some reason you've excluded other reasons like the one I suggested. Cool, lets see the evidence to support that.
 

VeevaVee

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It is a problem, but so is having Lingard and Pereira constantly playing. Most of the problems need sorting if we want to look decent.
 

Mark Pawelek

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Ok. Your claim here then is that the only reason players get injured is because they're injury prone. For some reason you've excluded other reasons like the one I suggested. Cool, lets see the evidence to support that.
I don't care why players get injured or whether they are injury prone. I just lookup their injury stats. 3 or 4 United players have been out injured for about 33% of their career here. Many players here have been injured for less than 5% of their career. Call it bad luck if you want to. We need to ship out players with a bad injury record. That's brutal; but they aren't exactly poverty stricken are they? If you want to win you have to be hard on yourself, and hard on those you work with.