Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Injuries define trophy race

Howdy folks, Mark here.

It's been a wonderful season for club doctors and physios.

Patrice Evra, only back from injury, limped off last night, leaving United with only 2 first team defenders, Brown and Heinze standing (or, in their respective cases, dithering and lunging).
United's injury crisis is hitting at the wrong time of the season, with the following injured or doubtful for the weekend and the first leg of the Champions League midweek:
Vidic, Silvestre, O'Shea, Ferdinand, Evra, Neville, Van Der Sar, Park, Saha

Over at Chelsea, Sheva has probably put himself out of the next 3 games after this horrendous (and hilarious) missed chance on Sunday ( ) and they are missing Robben until the end of the season.

Arsenal have had it bad many times this season with notable lengthy absentees - Henry, van Persie, Rosisky, Ljungberg and Gallas

In contrast, Liverpool have been reasonably lucky with injuries, and yet have only the Champions League to contest for (couldn't resist that dig...)

At the other end of the table, the notable injuries this season are Watford - Marlon King, Newcastle - Entire defense, Duff, Mickey Owen, Reading - Kitson, Charlton - Bent, Sheff Utd - Rob Hulse, Fulham - Bullard and many more.

How much better all their seasons could have been...

At the moment, Chelsea are looking like the best bet for cups as United lie on the ropes, but they will have enough to win the League. Just.
On the podcast tomorrow night, we will be discussing how much we hate Gerard Houllier, albeit for differing reasons, myself because he's a fool and a bluffer and JJ for the agony he inflicted on the Pool. We hope you agree with us and would love to get some stories, quotes, etc. from you to contribute to the vile.
Information about turning corners, worst signings and his little red scarf are appreciated....

Feel free to leave your comments below or email


JJ said...

Well boss, while I agree United have been unlucky with injuries of late they have had a relatively easy season in this regard up until recently. Chelsea have had to survive long periods of the season without Terry, Cech, the good Cole and Robben; the first two mentioned came during a sustained period of league games as well (Crimbo/non Champo league months), with Cole out for the entire year until two weeks ago. So their’s has been an unlucky season, not an unlucky run-in. Slight difference there I feel.

I have no sympathy for either.

The Pool have had a horrendous season (Barca games excluded); injury is not needed when you play Bolo in central midfield; buy Craig Bellamy (again, Barca games excluded), play an untried Gonzalez at Old Trafford; stick Gerrard on the left; give games to Fabio ‘I’m on downtime all the time’ Aurellio; stick Momo in the centre and ask him to create anything; leave in an out of form Alonso for four months; play Dudek in the cups… twice; concentrate on stamina instead of skill… etc etc etc

Mal said...

We have had injuries to Garcia, Kewell, Aurelio, Gonzalez and Momo. The first four injuries have left us short and lacking creativity on the left hand side.

JJ said...

Ah Mal, while Momo was injured Pool were winning an awful lot of games; Garcia is only good in one of every three games; and Gonzalez never made an impression before he got injured - though I have to admit that Benitez's penchant for Riise in that role certainly got in his way. I take your point but still think that it's self inflicted wounds that have hurt the side more than anything in the league. The absence of Harry was only to be expected.

Mal said...

I think that we did miss Momo while he was injured in the tough away games like Arsenal and Blackburn which we both lost.
I've disapointed with our left hand side this season. Thought Gonzalez would have had more of an impact. We all know what Riise can do but he's limited and not good enough for left back in my view. Garcia is very inconsistant but is one of the few players that we have who can unlock a stubborn defence.

Mark V said...

I agree that Liverpool missed Momo for a short while, but a central midfield of Gerrard and Alonso should have been good enough to get them through. The lack of a left side has been a big problem, I agree. Gonzales has been a major disappointment after hearing so many good things from Spain at the tailend of last season. Aurelio and Riise are patently not left wingers but Rafa has been forced into playing them there. I like Riise but I think he is sometimes dodgy at left back and doesn't offer enough going forward, apart frrm the occasional wonder goal. Aurelio should be a bench warmer, he used to be good, but is getting on now. Similarly, Spurs have had major problems on the left flank this season, over the past 2 years they have tried to buy every good left back/winger going, but are forced to stick with square pegs - malbranque, tainio, lennon, and the rubbish - lee, stalteri. it's a big test for Rafa (and indeed, Jol) to solve that problem next season. In world football, the options for left wing are thin on the ground - malouda, ribery(left footer playing mostly on the right though), nani - no ready made solution in the prem, if you discount Robben

Mal said...

I think that a top quality left winger should be as important to Rafa as a striker this summer. As you said there aren't a plethora of options, but someone along the lines of Ribery, Vicente (fitness permitting), Nani, Queresma or Mancini (right footer on the left) would do the trick. I'm happy enough with the rest of the team. One striker and one top winger would make a huge difference in my view.
Where do you think Utd can/should improve Mark? I think you could do a lot better than Van Der Saar.

el said...

au contraire JJ, United have suffered all season with injury....Scholsey with his weird eye thing, saha&brown being injury-prone, heinze&evra constantly picking up knocks, then in the run in gettin hit so hard...
having said that though, the squad should be big and stong enough to cope with injuries, and its not...

Mal, Van Der Sar is a brilliant keeper, i wonder now, what is wrong with him....
Kuszczak isnt strong enough in the air to cope with the amount of corners that united conceed and proceed to defend really badly...

Mal said...

Don't agree about Van Der Saar. I've always thought he's good when confident but is somewhat mentally fragile. That's why Juve sold him and bought Buffon. Utd can and should do a lot better. Plus he's getting on a bit now.

schuly said...

I think a goalscoring winger is needed for the pool (such as Quaresma), aswell as a goalscoring forward. I rate Aurelio very highly as a left back, if he can stay fit long enough to get used to defending in the prem, his distribution and play going forward is excellent. Mascherano and Arbeloa are probably the most successful signings since last season.
As for the top two and their injuries, no sympathy for either. Though would prefer Chelsea for the league, just to keep the likes of Fletcher from a medal Robbie Fowler never won.

Mark V said...

United also need a left winger to replace giggs, which will be a good battle with the Pool!
I don't fancy Quaresma, he was at Barca when he was young and they got rid of him, how would he handle being at another big club?
Nani has his reputation and youth, but I haven't seen him play yet. Ribery is the best option, French players tend to adapt well in England, but he'll cost a fair bit.
I've only seen a bit of Mancini, he looks good enough but I'll reserve judgement until I see more of him.
van der Sar was excellent this season but is starting to look wobbly, his age doesn't help, we don't need a Seaman or Lehmann situation where the goals start to creep in as age rises. I think Foster may be given a shot, and I agree about Kuszczak not being great, though he is relatively inexperienced.

there's not too much wrong with the United team, they need more depth and steel in midfield, which Hargreaves will bring, carrick playing the Scholes position next season probably. Giggs will be ok for next season with Park as backup, right wing is fine. I expect Rossi to come back, United to get rid of Saha and Solksjaer, bring in Gudjohnsen and A.N. Other. Defense is fine, especially with some youth coming through(Evans, Bardsley)

Liverpool have a much bigger rebuilding job on their hands, a striker (unless Kuyt can score 20+ next season - i'm unconvinced), left winger, right winger, solid left back (unless Arbeloa will play there all the time?)

JJ said...

Hey folks, El I'd like to point out the following. That Scholes injury was last season; Brown is never not injured and wouldn't have got a chance until Vidic was out; and United are trying to sell Heinze so they can't rate him that highly. Now, are you seriously comparing these fellas niggles to Terry, Cech, Cole and Robben? Devil Red-tinted glasses I suspect.

Agree with Mark on Man U getting a new left winger and Ribery will most likely end up there. Arse are in turmoil, Chelscum only have room for one winger per game; Pool a possibility but something tells me Rafa will give Gonzalez another season. What do ye think of Park? Good but not great as Eamo would say?

Pool at left back are fine I think, just allow Riise to play his natural position and it'll be grand. Arbeloa was at fault for Gudjonsen's goal against Barca so don't trust him there yet; anyway he was brought in for competition for Finnan not Riise.

Striker for Pool; well get rid of Bellamy and get in... hmmmm... don't think they have the money for Villa - whom, along with Torres I feel would struggle in the Prem. Perhaps Trezeguet? Many links to him in previous seasons. Any suggestions folks?

Mal said...

I think Arbeloa at left back against Barca was an attempt to put a right footed defender on Messi to stop him cutting inside onto his left foot and it worked pretty well over the two legs. I don't think that he's an option at left back in the long run. I would prefer Aurelio to Riise at left back. I wouldn't sell Riise but he has a lot of limitations and is a squad player rather than a starter for me. Insua is supposed to be a good prospect in that position.
Hard to say who would be best for left wing. Maybe Ribery but he might be more inclined to go to Utd or Arsenal.
Some rumours on the forums in recent days that we're bidding for Henry or Huntelaar. I doubt Henry will leave Arsenal and why would they let him come to us? Huntelaar wouldn't be a bad option in my view. He is young and a fantastic finisher. There is the question of can he do it abroad but he looked pretty good against Ireland for Holland last year. Look him up on youtube and you'll see that he is a clinical finisher who gets into the optimum position to score. More of a Ruud than some of the other names that we've been linked to.