Date:Friday November 9 2007
The other day I read an article on Guardian Unlimited regarding Chelsea's injuries and it concluded that the injuries to Cech and Terry could yet result in serious slide just like last season.
These things make the blood boil. It's become an accepted truth that Chelsea had an injury ravaged season and it's overlooked that we had even more fitness problems, especially in the spring. So far now nobody outside Old Trafford has seemed to notice that we have to put up with a scary injury list...
With Rooney now out for 4 weeks, it will of course change as it leaves even less hope for McClaren to save his job. But at the moment to be honest I couldn't care less about England as I'm greatly irritated by the headlines going like 'Rooney blow for England' - I hate that sometimes it's not even mentioned that it's actually bad news for United, too. We have less strikers to choose from than Mr. McClaren, let me remind everyone of that.
I know that injuries are part of football and we have to put up with them. But the amount of our problems is not normal, there's something terribly wrong here. The physios seem to have messed up badly here. Think we're just unfortunate? Gary Neville, Ji-sung Park, Ben Foster, Mikael Silvestre, Michael Carrick, Owen Hargreaves, Louis Saha, Wayne Rooney, Paul Scholes: players who are or were forced to miss at least one month due to injury.
Minor ones like Vidic's, Brown's and Evra's are not even worth mentioning with the mind-boggling quantity of serious troubles. Questions must be asked from everyone who works with our players because it cannot be a coincidence. Rooney's metatarsal is now famous for breaking unexpectedly but his ankle was assumed to be solid enough. Louis Saha's legs are made of powder but Owen Hargreaves' knee problems are worrying because he had a decent injury record with Bayern. And don't even get me started on Gary Neville.
As for United's prospects: even if we pull through don't expect credits for the way we coped. We haven't received them so far and won't receive them in the future. So focus on business. The upcoming fixtures are Blackburn home, Bolton away, Sporting h, Fulham h, Derby h, Roma a. Could be worse. Let's have a look.
He's definitely out of the first four. Blackburn are a very tough nut to crack but Saha has a good record against them and we should still be able to dispose of them. Bolton away should be won even if all three strikers are out and Fulham at home is of the very same category. And I can't imagine any scenario that ends with Derby getting a point at Old Trafford.
The two Champions League games are different, of course... but fortunately, we are already through. If we concede first place and end up playing some bloody European giant like Barcelona... well, so be it, the league is more important. But we could defeat Sporting without Rooney and there's nothing else we need to do.
The problem, of course, is Saha. If he starts every single one of the aforementioned matches he is bound to pick up an injury again. No wonder Sir Alex pondered just today of turning him into an impact player. That's what could be the best for him with such an injury record, that's undoubtable. So I expect Tevez to be forced to play on his own in a 4-2-3-1, with Nani, Giggs and Ronaldo behind him. It could still work - but I will be very, very uneasy before Sunday's game. What's more, I am restless already.
We'll still have Saha as an impact sub and with Carrick, Fletcher and Hargreaves all available, I would keep Anderson on the bench, too. He excelled as a midfielder so far but we might need him a more attacking role if things don't go our way. We must use our great squad but it's even more imperative to buy a striker in January. I know Sir Alex has vowed he wouldn't plunge into the winter market but when you can't rely even on Rooney's fitness, you're in trouble and need to boost the numbers.
Date:Friday November 9 2007
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