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Vidic loss proves lessons are not being learned

You know when something just doesn’t surprise you any more, but when you pause for a moment and take into account the facts, you realise you really should be surprised?

Well, the news that Manchester United’s Nemanja Vidic will be out for a suspected 8 weeks (with an injury to the same knee that kept him out from December last year until recently) came as no surprise to me. But surely it’s time to begin worrying about the constant conveyor belt of injured players passing through the physio room, in particular, defensive players or more specifically, centre backs.

Did Owen Hargreaves have a point when he critisised the treatment he received during his rehabilitation?

How can one club (especially one the size of United) find themselves in the position of utilising central midfielders as centre backs for three consecutive years? Carrick’s started there, so too has Fletcher. Even Dimitar Berbatov found his way back there at Elland Road last season.

Phil Jones and Chris Smalling haven’t seen first team football for months and suffered back-to-back injuries. Rio Ferdinand has age as an excuse I guess but has suffered more than his fair share of comebacks down the years with only Jonny Evans remaining relatively fit.

Wes Brown was constantly making a comeback and as for the afore mentioned Owen Hargreaves, the less said the better!

What could possibly be the cause? One season I accept is bad luck, two seasons is a bloody unlucky coincidence but THREE? That’s no coincidence, it’s time for United to start learning lessons and investigate; the standard of treatment the players are receiving, the fitness work they’re being ask to do, or the decisions being made on when a player is ready to return to action.

Manchester United has issued the following statement regarding club captain Nemanja Vidic:

“Nemanja Vidic has had a meniscus operation on his right knee and will be out for around eight weeks.

“Sir Alex, as a precautionary measure, rested Vidic at the weekend, after he complained of tightness in his knee, however, further medical investigation revealed the underlying problem.

“The central defender was operated on this week and will be sidelined for about eight weeks.”

20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. Craig Mc

    September 25, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    Meniscus is cartilage tear/disease, so not the same as the medial knee ligament damage Vida had last season, although it is the same knee, different problem!

  2. Daniele

    September 25, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    Spot on. Our record with injuries over the last 3-4 seasons has been nothing short of dreadful. I could understand Rio and even Vida to an extent as they’re not getting any younger, but young lads such as Smalling and Jones ffs! I’m not pointing the finger at our medical staff or physios but the problem has to be addressed quickly.

    CBs seem to be getting injured every second day, while Evra’s played almost every game in the last 2-3 seasons. Surely they follow the same training regime?

  3. Freddy

    September 25, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    Surely man u neva learn

  4. markyboy

    September 25, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    Players are now built for speed at united,they can`t seem to handle knocks or the physical side of the game.Vidic looks like a rake since he`s returned. 😡

  5. Sean

    September 25, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    I remember a high profile physio criticising uniteds back room staff 3 or 4 years ago pointing at the amount of players we had injured at that time and Ferguson came out swinging saying he couldn’t have achieved what he did without his staff specially the physios but ain’t nothing changed since then it probably getting worse everyseason, out of the 20 clubs last season city had the lowest time spent in the injury room by it players, no need to tell you united was amongst the highest. Success can b a problem sometimes because it can make you believe on your own hype and it can make you stubborn, and that’s exactly what Ferguson is just like any other successful manager i.e. a capello going to 08 world cup playing fourfourtwo when the whole world was crying for a change of system because the one he’s using dint suit his group of players but we all know he dint listen it’s only when they got sent packing he started to say oh yea am open to suggestions. It’s hard to learn a lesson if your not open to criticism and suggestion

  6. Redrich

    September 25, 2012 at 10:34 pm

    This is all possible but when you look at the injuries individually I don’t see a way in which they could have been prevented.
    Vidic’ torn ACL was an unfortunate accident and the same with Smalling (broken foot). Rio has chronic back pain and Jones looks like a kamakaze type of player who will be vulnerable to injury.

    But knowing that Rio could go down at anytime and with Jones unproven at that position we are rolling the dice going into the season without proper cover. Last two seasons we rolled and lost.

    If there’s a lesson to be learned, it would be “bulk up your squad with some reliable backups”

  7. ForeverRed

    September 26, 2012 at 2:13 am

    I agree that whatever the reasons, our perennial injury crisis does seem to disproportionately affect our defensive players. Despite this, our first team squad seems to be heavily weighted towards wingers and other attack-minded players; so much so that there isn’t enough spaces on the bench for them all. This has been further accentuated by our recent transfer activity. Meanwhile we have to resort to square pegs in round holes at the back!

    I don’t claim to know what the causes of this are, but as was stated by the author, it has proven to be a recurring problem, as opposed to a one-off… Maybe a crazy suggestion here, but do the problems coincide with our lack of defensive midfield shield in recent seasons? Is our lightweight midfield exposing our CBs to a lot more direct pressure with fast and aggressive attacks through the middle as other teams have worked out how to exploit our weakness? I’m not suggesting that this necessarily leads directly to injuries, but cumulatively, is last ditch, back-to-goal defending, twisting and turning at pace etc, putting more wear and tear on joints and muscles that makes them more susceptible to injury?

    I guess we’ll never know, but it struck me that our defensive injury problems over the last 3 years or so coincide quite well with our woes in midfield; specifically the midfield’s limited ability to break up attacks before they reach the back four and them also frequently struggling to retain possession when under pressure, thus exposing an unprotected defense to the onslaught… Thoughts?

    • Redrich

      September 26, 2012 at 4:26 am

      @ForeverRed: Injuries among defensive players are more common. The simple truth is they are trained to lay their life down if duty calls. They are wholly responsible for blocking shots. out-leaping CF’s and making game saving tackles. Their shelf life is shorter than those without their responsibilities and their mistakes are much more critical than an attacking player. They are also much more vulnerable to yellow/red cards.
      In short they have a testy disposition that keeps them on the edge of disaster.
      No wonder they get injured. 😉

      • ForeverRed

        September 26, 2012 at 6:50 am

        @Redrich: I don’t disagree Redrich that defenders (and CBs in particular) will generally get injured more than other positions. I just suspect ours get exposed more than teams that play with an effective midfield shield. (What stats could we use to test this hypothesis?).

        It’s frustrating to think that the addition of one quality (and complementary) DM alongside Carrick as the 2 in a 4-2-3-1 could not only better protect our beleaguered defence, but also provide a much more robust platform to link with our currently isolated attack minded players. Fletcher is the closest thing we have to such a player, and while I obviously wish him the very best on his return, it remains to be seen whether he can get back to competing at the top level. To me, Cleverley, Powell, Scholes, Anderson, Kagawa (and Rooney for that matter) despite having different qualities, would be competing along with Nani/AV for the 3 places ahead of the DM pairing in such a formation. RvP would be my first choice up top with Hernandez and Welbeck as back-ups.

        What this obviously highlights is an over-abundance of AMs /wingers/forwards that we are currently trying to shoehorn into the side and not surprisingly, there is a resultant dearth of defensive discipline as a unit. I strongly believe that this lack of balance (caused by the missing DM) is the single biggest source of both our defensive frailties and indirectly, our shortage of creativity and shots on goal against the better/ higher pressing teams. This stems from the lack of ball retention and its effective use from the back, thus not bringing our creative players into the game in dangerous positions, especially centrally. It is concerning to watch us currently unable to get the best out of our abundance of attacking riches and seeing them seemingly frustrated and confused at the set-up /tactics.

        I realize that we have new players to integrate and patience is important. I also think that Fletcher’s successful return is now going to be key for us. However, it’s a lot of weight to be putting on the lad’s shoulders and a big gamble on Fergie’s part that, while he has added yet more attacking players, he has not strengthened in this critical position.

  8. John Tring

    September 26, 2012 at 4:23 am

    Bad coaching and worse playing mates. Defenders are working overtime as even ordinary attacking opponents seem to get to our CBs with ease. At the end of the day, the buck stops with SAF. Another season of impending disappointment I guess. David Gill, you should wake up. Get JM. Beg, borrow or steal if needed to get him.

    • Redrich

      September 26, 2012 at 4:31 am

      @John Tring: Good grief, we are 5 games in, have 12 points and lie second in the table, and you are prepared to predict, already, impending doom.
      Wow, you must know something, mate. 😉

    • Stephen

      September 26, 2012 at 8:55 am

      @John Tring: Well done on the worst post this season.
      Are you saying replace a manger for another whom is currently 7th in his own league getting 7 points from 5 games rather than 12 and we are second? Jeeez Glory, Glory….
      Look on the bright side, we could be City!

  9. Stephen

    September 26, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    As I can see our season really must start this weekend. I believe we will go out tonight as we will field an under strength side, compared to the Geordies who will go quite strong.
    I can see both sides to our start, yes we haven’t played well but we have still achieved an impressive points haul, dare I say the mark of Champions…….
    With Vida out this is again a massive loss, but Evans played well and has improved greatly over the past couple of seasons and Rio is still superb, all be it a lot slower. The positives are so far, obviously RvP, yes he has been quiet in the last couple of games but he is scoring and will get better. Rafael looks like he could have his break out season and there has been encouraging signs from Kagawa. The negatives bar some of the performances has for me been Nani and the chop and changing of the goal keepers which for me is a worry.
    There are many on here who blame tactics and Fergie. But what wins leagues is team unity and the desire to win, which our side has in spades. Look at City, the Milan clubs and Real who have all struggled so far, lets take the positives so far. Also lets not forget Everton away on the first game of the season with your centre midfield player at the back isn’t ideal.
    Our next 6 league game are Spurs, Newcastle, Stoke, Chelsea and Arsenal. These games will really see what our team are made of. This is a very tough run of games which could determine our season to some degree. Again for the 3rd season running our centre backs are being slowly picked off, this was for me why we lost the league last season. With Fletcher coming back this hopefully will provide some steal, where we need it. Our dreaded midfield has a soft underbelly, which is obvious and it was strange that we chose not to invest in this area!
    I am not saying everything is good in the garden of Eden, but it could be a lot worse!

  10. Jay wire

    September 26, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    Generally the Premiership has a rather poor health record according to a report I read two years ago. It’s probably the physical intensity of it all. Don’t really know why we are always hit hardest. Maybe it’s just perennial misfortune. But that still makes it a trend. Rooney’s injury was clear cut. In all manner of speaking. But the injuries that just suddenly crop up just before a match are quite puzzling. I don’t remember seeing Jones injured or Smalling. Even Rooney before Euros. Maybe we rush players as Hargreaves claims. But to me it seems even if we had 10 world class defenders, at some point Carrick will have to fill in. I mean at one point all our centre backs were injured. How does that happen? Maybe it’s because they’re overworked as they seem the only ones that turn up for matches sometimes. Hopefully Rvp survives. Everyone is holding their breaths on that one and justifiably so. It’s probably a given that both Anderson and Cleverly will get injured at a critical time, usually around February. It is interesting though that some players never get injured. Carrick, Giggs, Scholes, Evra. Is it individual physical issues then, because we all know Rooney has to miss at least two months each season. Anderson the same. Rio for logistical and practical reasons has no back and can simply be unavailable in a blink. Now similar conditions for Vidic. Puzzling

  11. Jay wire

    September 26, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    Oh, and apologies for going hard on Ferguson last time. I did promise myself I’ll try and be more positive this season because no point dwelling in the obvious. I still stand on my opinion and it’s not a crusade but let’s not forget what this place is called. And that’s what I was doing. But I’ve decided to be more positive now and rather hope for the best than predict disaster. But for all our sakes, I hope we never ever see a repeat of the Liverpool Event. What a horrible 95 minutes. But please, please can we just settle on a team and a plan. Let’s make it a mission to get Kagawa, Rvp, Nani and Rooney to become the most feared death squad at least in England. I really feel, if these guys get into it,this may give us a huge psychological boost that’ll reduce the pressure on our under fire defence because teams will think twice before they come to Old Trafford to attack. I really feel, the fear factor has gone already that used to make us winners as soon as we walked onto the pitch. Now it seems people fear Chelsea and City and look forward to the United game as a genuine opportunity to add points. That must change. And the lesser teams and their unfortunate supporters should hope they have already achieved their goals before United come to town

    • Stephen

      September 26, 2012 at 1:44 pm

      @Jay wire: @Jay wire: We are all allowed to bemoan poor performances matey, but there is an element who moan believing it makes them an insightful supporter and not looking at the bigger picture. Not strengthening the midfield was a big error, starting Giggs at Anfield was another. But we won and Fergie gets more out of his players than Mancini with he array of options.

    • Opti

      September 26, 2012 at 4:17 pm

      @Jay wire: THIS IS WHY I GET SO ANGRY AT OUR TACTICS!!!–>”I really feel, the fear factor has gone already that used to make us winners as soon as we walked onto the pitch.”

      Exactly what has happened. Exactly!! And all we can do is sit and watch our fearless opponents unfold our midfield and outshoot us. This is not the United of Old. This must change. The change must come from Nani, Kagawa, RvP, Valencia, and Rooney linking up in THE most feared front 5 in the world.

      Best United IX:
      ——— De Gea ——–
      Rafael–Rio-Evans–Evra
      ——- Carrick ———
      Vally—–Kagawa—- Nani
      —- Rooney—- RvP—–

  12. Opti

    September 26, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    It seems like Valencia is out of a couple of days or weeks with foot injury — he wore a protective cast on his foot and crutches as he left Carrington Tuesday night…

    Also read that Evans sustained a knock during Liverpool game and may not be ready for today and possibly this weekend. 😯 😯

  13. Jay wire

    September 26, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    @Stephen- I get you mate. I realised that I’ve already made my position clear and whilst I still believe we’re the (censored)….side in all of Europe, we did get two very intelligent players. And it seems one of them is very vocal about how he should play and what teammates should do. Also, every analyst,”armchair strategist” and Gary Neville have been criticising the misuse of Rvp and Kagawa. Former players and coaches etc. That’s good news. It means at some point it’ll sink in especially to the players. And especially Valencia, whose game I feel is starving our attacks and disorienting everyone else. The minute he gets into the tune of attacking goal directly and playing more centrally, I’m completely convinced noone in England and most on the continent will be able to stop us. It also makes it redundant for the central midfielders to attack because we’ll have 2 main forwards and 2 complimentary ones coming from wide. If the midfielders stay put, our defence is attacked less. I was quite pleased with Cleverly’s interview I read today. He was talking about how he has begun to alter his game and tame the attacking urges because of Kagawa. If only he could start some games and break the Scholes stranglehold to make us even more dynamic. I’m still hoping

    • Stephen

      September 26, 2012 at 5:52 pm

      @Jay wire: There is also the fact we are still integrating RvP and Kagawa into a new forward line. They probably don’t speak the same language, in Kagawa’s case and this synergy will take time. I wouldn’t call this mis-use as they have only had a few games together, so we need to give them the benefit of the doubt…for now.

      Scholes is still our best midfield player which is obviously concerning. He should be coming on with 10 minutes to go and seeing games through, rather than running our midfield. This is Fergies error, also watching Pogba playing for Juve fills me with rage, as does watching Ljajic for Fiorentina who is currently playing very well under Montella. Cleverley has showed promise but needs to stop learning from Anderson when it comes to shooting and take more responsibly with dictating play.

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