Injuries bite into United’s chances

March 17, 2011 Tags: , Reads 22 comments

Sir Alex Ferguson will need every one of his 25-man squad in the coming weeks, with up to a dozen players missing for this weekend’s fixture with Bolton Wanderers. Indeed, the 69-year-old Scot will dig deep into Manchester United’s resources after John O’Shea and Rafael da Silva were forced out of the Reds’ victory over Marseille at Old Trafford on Tuesday night. Worse news came Thursday morning, with confirmation that influential defender Rio Ferdinand could miss the rest of United’s season.

The defensive problems mean that Ferguson has just four fit defenders for Wanderers’ visit to Old Trafford on Saturday, with Nemanja Vidic and Jonny Evans also struggling to make the Lancashire derby. The injuries threaten to seriously derail United’s progress at home and abroad in the coming week.

Indeed, United’s victory over Marseille in the Champions League round of 16 on Tuesday night came despite a rash of defensive changes. The back-four of Patrice Evra, Chris Smalling, Wes Brown and Fabio da Silva that completed the tie will almost certainly start at the weekend.

“It was nervy because so many players came off with injuries,” said Ferguson of Tuesday’s tie.

“It shifted the balance of the team. I would have rather brought on Darron Gibson because the problem was always going to be [Marseille’s] height and it caused us problems.

“In defence it was maybe a lack of understanding between the players. We have changed the back four many times and without the experience of Nemanja Vidic or Rio Ferdinand you are going to be under pressure at times with the young players we have.”

Injured United XIIt’s a challenge United will now face with trepidation. While Smalling’s progress has been remarkable this season, his form has noticeably dipped when the reassuring presence of Ferdinand or Vidic is absent. Understandable, of course, given the 20-year-old’s lack of top-flight experience.

But the former Fulham defender, alongside Brown, who has been ostracised for long stretches of the current season, will be required for the Bolton game at a minimum. The international break will provide some relief but there is no guarantee United’s problems will ease over the next fortnight. Ferguson can only hope that the packed international fixture list does not bring further bad news.

“Rio has been out for a few weeks now,” added Ferguson today.

“We are not looking at this as a short-term situation. He has not started training yet. We will be lucky to get him back for some part of the season.

“Vidic won’t make it. He is showing good recovery for this week and should be OK after the international break but not enough for Saturday.

“It has been a bad spell for us. Only a few weeks ago we had every defender fit and things were looking great. It has all just fallen apart in the last week or so. Hopefully Jonny Evans may be fit for Saturday, even if it is a bit of a risk. He has trained all week but he has been out for such a long time.”

But risks are what Ferguson must now take, whether including Evans or not. And the problems, while highlighted in the back-four, are all over the pitch with a dozen players probably missing for Saturday. Paul Scholes will miss the next two matches through suspension, while Park Ji-Sung, Anderson, Owen Hargreaves, Darren Fletcher and Michael Owen will not feature until April at the earliest.

Reports today that Ferguson has finally lost patience with Owen will come as no surprise. The former Liverpool striker will almost certainly be allowed to leave the club this summer when he is out of contract.

Even reserve goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard could miss the rest of the season with a knee injury, which was operated on this week.

Then, if only to add to Ferguson’s problems, neither Nani nor Antonio Valencia are fully fit, while Ryan Giggs has only recently returned from a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

Injuries of course are simply part of the game and United’s resources, although thinner than at many times over the past decade, are still ample. Indeed, Ferguson can draft in youngsters from the reserves and academy at almost any time. Joshua King, Ryan Tunnicliffe and Ravel Morrison have each made brief appearances in the United first team – or bench – this season.

Not that Ferguson will be overseeing any of United’s next five domestic fixtures, having accepted – reportedly with great reluctance – the FA’s draconian five match touchline ban for criticising referee Martin Atkinson. The Yorkshire-born official sent off United’s captain Vidic, handed Chelsea a penalty, and failed to dismiss David Luiz – effectively winning the Londoners a key fixture. As he normally does, some might add, especially given that it was the second time in as many seasons that Atkinson has materially affected United’s result at Stamford Bridge.

That, Ferguson says, is now “in the past”. Unfortunately, United’s injury concerns are not.



uncleknobheadforfucksake - March 17, 2011 Reply

weve played some good stuff the last couple of games without all the runabouters, bit open but it’s been alright

bob - March 17, 2011 Reply

fergies covering for the owners ie `lack of value` in the transfer market,is about to bite our arse big time.

sheesh - March 17, 2011 Reply

We’ve been OK, but not much more than that. Against Arsenal, we scored our first goal against the run of play when they had all the possession and looked more likely to score. We played well in the second half.

Against Marseille, we rode our luck a bit. Again, we let them have a fair amount of the ball because our bollockless midfielders were too scared to take the ball off them. They had 3 decent chances to score. Without Hernandez and the heroics of Van der Sar, we would have been in for a long night.

sheesh - March 17, 2011 Reply

By the way, Fergie’s announcement re the injuries is timely considering the international break is coming up. I would take his words with a pinch of salt.

Mongoletsi - March 18, 2011 Reply

Club before country innit.

eddieTheRed - March 18, 2011 Reply

The injuries are a big problem but even with a full squad we have developed a tendency to stand off the opposition when they attack – it’s like our midfield is afraid to tackle for fear of giving away free kicks!

It cost us practically all the goals against Bayern Munich last year and it will cost us again if we don’t grow a pair of balls and start putting in tackles. Opposition teams know that if they run at us we won’t put a tackle in – look at Luis Suarez!

sidney - March 18, 2011 Reply

Need Vidic and or Ferdinand fit for the run in

Arsenal have injury problems too, and they’ve resigned Lehman the silly cunts

sheesh - March 18, 2011 Reply

Mark Ogden (covers the Manchester clubs closely) of the Daily Telegraph on Twitter:
On Rio, Fergie hugely impressed by Smalling, but wants more experienced player to compensate for possible loss of Rio.
8 minutes ago via web
Rio Ferdinand battling to save his Man Utd career. Fergie already searching for replacement. Link available shortly..
11 minutes ago via web

Alfonso Bedoya - March 18, 2011 Reply

I used to play a lot of sports when I was young and fit… long fuckin time ago… hmmm… long time… ffs…
Anyway… I honestly believe that some modern players, just lose their appetite for the game… day after day after day of training and playing… football, football, football… I think some of them just say fuck it, I can’t be arsed right now… seriously… when I was playing, something had to very wrong to keep me out of the game… because I just wanted to play… but obviously, that was just for fun and love of the game.
Notice how some players seem to be able to play with so called, “niggles” and “knocks”… these same players never seem to miss much time… and when they do, you’ll find them on crutches… properly injured…
And then there’s players that just always seem to have an oopsy of some sort.
Look at Ronaldo… used to get kicked from one end of the pitch to the other, game after game… seldom missed a match… and then there’s Saha… allways had summat wrong with him… “train all week, passed fit, and then break down 10 miutes before game time”… how many times did we hear that?
I think… just maybe… Rio’s getting like that… first his back, now his calf… there’s always summat.
I can see how it happens… been playing football… seriously playing… 24/7/365 since they were 14/15 and some, even younger… and they get to their late twenties/early thirties… making millions… I can see how some would just get sick of it for spells… the pure joy of the game has long since gone, and now it’s just a job… but you can’t admit to it, can you?

“Badges, to god-damned hell with badges! We have no badges. In fact, we don’t need badges. I don’t have to show you any stinking badges, you god-damned cabrón and ching’ tu madre! Come out from that shit-hole of yours. I have to speak to you.”

Ashish - March 18, 2011 Reply

I am pretty damn sure that despite this so called “injury crisis” we’re still going to be coasting towards the title.

This will also be due to United playing poorly but the opposition playing much worse.

herbie simms - March 18, 2011 Reply

Alfonso, you need to come back out and play, show these youngsters how it should be done. Yeah, its different now, all about money. Player gets a little knock and he’s out for three weeks to a month. New generation is soft now. When I was playing football, guys would still be playing with a broken leg, guys were tough. Too many cry-babies out there. As for United, I’m not concerned about the team, they will go on and win the title and sought out all the problems and transfers during the summer break. I see Bebe scored a cracker the another night, great goal. Next season, we should see muh better team as SAF prepares to make a massive overhaul and rebuild the team. He has no other choice but to do so if he wants to remain in the top four.

Muff - March 18, 2011 Reply

Throughout this season and last season our players have not been able to hold on a slim lead, something we did to perfection in 8/9 season. Every other game even when we are in front the ball is kicked forward in unnecessary HARRY. Most of our players are not comfortable with the ball, to move a few steps forward facing the opponent and make a good progressive pass. This piles pressure on the defenders. I wish we could buy nos. 6,8 and 11.

ltel - March 19, 2011 Reply

theres talk of hargo gettin a place on the bench today
has he been gettin reserve games at all? or any football?

han - March 19, 2011 Reply

Alfonso Bedoya said:
I used to play a lot of sports when I was young and fit… long fuckin time ago… hmmm… long time… ffs…

water sports dinna count alf

Alfonso Bedoya - March 19, 2011 Reply

How would you know?
The closest you get to sports is blowing MadRed with your United shirt on.

“Badges, to god-damned hell with badges! We have no badges. In fact, we don’t need badges. I don’t have to show you any stinking badges, you god-damned cabrón and ching’ tu madre! Come out from that shit-hole of yours. I have to speak to you.”

Louis - March 20, 2011 Reply

its a 4-5-1 Injuries

Rafael Rio Vidic Evans
Park Owen.H O Shea Anderson

hugh ogilvie - March 21, 2011 Reply

what is up with hargreaves. that hamstring must be sorted by now or are his knees still giving him problems? we want him / need him back!!

Alfonso Bedoya - March 21, 2011 Reply


Ben Hulston - March 21, 2011 Reply

Hugh – I read a little about how Hargreaves had been treated. Effectively, they had to re-build his knees and then teach him to run again. His gait or something was exaggerating his tendinitis so they had to sort him out with gentle jogging all the way up to running.

Competing in a game is a different animal altogether to running up and down a training pitch. Additionally, he tore his hamstring, which is a horrible injury at the best of times.

I’d love to see Hargo back, but sadly I fear he will retire at the end of the season. If he could get back in the side, and play a part in each of the remaining games towards the back end of the season, I think we should give him a one year pay as you play deal, and if that goes well, a further one year full deal. I’ve always thought very highly of him and believe we should give him every chance if he gets playing again, because he is of undoubted quality.

sheesh - March 21, 2011 Reply

Sod Hargreaves, what does this guy (and Morrison) have to do to get into the first team?!-paul-pogba-west-brom-u18-8444937/

Ed - March 21, 2011 Reply

sheesh – well to be fair performing at U18 level and in the Premier/Champions League is a totally different ball game. They’ll get a chance eventually.

sheesh - March 21, 2011 Reply

Ed said:
sheesh – well to be fair performing at U18 level and in the Premier/Champions League is a totally different ball game. They’ll get a chance eventually.

I appreciate that there is a massive difference but these players clearly have so much potential already. It’s so frustrating when you see how little inventiveness there is in our first team’s central midfield and then these boys are playing so well. They are so bright and they always want the ball. It just makes me want to see them cut their teeth in the first team sooner rather than later, that’s all.
I know Fergie is biding his time with those two but I find it frustrating.

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