Every team undergoes serious uphill battles because of injuries. For Arsenal, it seems to be every season. For Liverpool, it tends to be whenever they have a striker that carries 99% of the scoring load (so, every season). For Chelsea/Manchester City, the money and depth could stave off a busload of injuries. However, in the current season, Manchester United is facing that “busload”…plus some. Will the injuries derail United’s journey back to the top four or will Van Gaal work some magic with a seriously depleted squad? Will the injuries provide a valid excuse and, perhaps, a longer window to reach success for the Dutch manager?
Manchester United currently find themselves without more than 10 players, at least seven of which would probably be chosen for the starting 11 if they were healthy. Only Everton and Newcastle United seem to be suffering from more injuries, but the other top four hopefuls have less than half of the injuries that United has. For a team that has seemed on a precipice of returning to some semblance of elite form, these losses have the possibility of cutting deep.
While there are already a few that are hurting the available starting line-up for the Red Devils, the most recent might end up being the most painful. The loss of Daley Blind will remove a player that could provide serious cover in front of a defense that is stocked full of walking wounded. Blind looked like he was turning into a big piece in the United rebuilding, but his injury will have him sitting until 2015. Why had Blind become so important? Well, United are without Rojo, Rafael, Jones, Evans, and occasional defensive cover Carrick. Rojo is out until December with a dislocated shoulder that he suffered against Manchester City, and, while the other defenders could return at any moment, you have to be worried about bringing these players back too quickly.
Why do they need their defense back? Well, beside the obvious “DUH,” David De Gea will not be between the sticks for a little while. De Gea has single-handedly kept United in multiple fixtures since he joined United. While his injury should not keep him out for too long, it is still a worry. The only true attacking threat that has been sidelined is Falcao. The current rumor is that Falcao is almost ready to go, but the Colombian has become worryingly injury-prone. Considering how much it will cost United to make Falcao’s move permanent, he needs to start making a big-time impact. He is another small injury or two away from being a serious bust…and a master-stroke by Monaco to try and offload him.
The biggest question here is whether these injuries will buy LVG more patience with the club than what was afforded to Moyes. Such a massive club tends to mean that the manager is given less time to make a positive turnaround. With injuries being completely out of the manager’s hands (especially this many injuries), will it have the United faithful and the boardroom giving Van Gaal some extra time to fix the team? Of course, LVG might still find his way to success DESPITE all of these injuries…in which case, the antics of LVG might take place on the side of Old Trafford for many seasons to come.
Issues like this for the big clubs lends more and more credence to the thought that some of the top-tier footballers are not given enough down-time. Considering we just saw an international break with fixtures shoved right into the middle of the club season, it really makes you wonder. Will things ever change because of these injuries? Could LVG be given a longer leash because of those injuries? What are your thoughts?