This season has been disastrous for Manchester United in terms of injuries. They have had crises in seemingly every position throughout the year. Fans have pointed their fingers at many people but who is to blame for United’s injury crisis?
Who is to Blame for Manchester United’s Injury Crisis?
There have been problems all over the pitch for United this season, and although one could argue that every team has bad years for injury, this season, they have a rather unusual situation.
The Extent of the Injuries
In nearly every position, Manchester United have had at least one injury this season. Some have been far less serious than others, yet it is clear that something is going wrong for them in terms of injuries this season
David de Gea Injury Scare
United got a huge scare when David de Gea came off during Spain’s 1-1 draw with Sweden in October. This came just five days before a crucial northwest derby against an extremely strong Liverpool side. Despite the quality of their second-choice goalkeeper Sergio Romero, United fans waited with bated breath for more details on de Gea’s injury. Although he ended up starting the Liverpool game and helping his side to a 1-1 draw with the league leaders, De Gea’s injury scare worried many among the United fan base.
Injuries All Over the Defense
Three of Manchester United’s first-choice back four have missed some matches due to health or fitness. This comes alongside long term injuries to many of their reserve defenders.
The most notable defensive miss for the Red Devils this season has been Luke Shaw. The Englishman’s time at United has been marred by injury, and this season has proven no different. He has played in just half of United’s Premier League fixtures this season, and with some of these being very short appearances, Shaw has played a minor part in United’s season. Youngster Brandon Williams has stepped up to life in the Premier League in Shaw’s absence, however, the more experienced of the two Englishmen seems to be favoured by manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Damning Injuries in Midfield
Central midfield has been the reds’ weakest position this season, with both of their first choice midfielders having played minimal parts in their season.
Scott McTominay is one of the most exciting young players at United. Being an academy graduate makes him a fan favourite and he has shown his worth many times. This season, however, he has spent much time on the sidelines.
After suffering an ankle injury a late challenge in United’s 3-0 win over Partizan in November, McTominay was a doubt for the subsequent match against Brighton & Hove Albion. Although he played for nearly the entire match, McTominay came off in stoppage time looking to be in quite some pain. Later, Solskjaer revealed that the Scot had once again injured his ankle and could face some time out. The extent of this injury was surely worsened by the knock he had picked up prior to the Brighton match. Playing a full game so soon after not being expected to play is perhaps not the best way to deal with injuries.
He came back for the festive period but once again left the field of play early in their Boxing Day fixture against Newcastle. This, however, seemed caused by fixture congestion more than anything else.
Despite his controversiality among United supporters, there is no doubt that Paul Pogba is a man of much quality. He is United’s best source of creativity, yet he has started just five league matches this season. This has left United lacking the ability to create chances, as well as looking lacklustre and weak in the middle. Pogba has missed every Europa League match United have had this season so far due to injury. He was brought back twice, however both of these times, the injury worsened. He has now had to have surgery on his ankle and will be out until late February.
Biggest Miss this Season: Rashford
Marcus Rashford has been the star player at United this season. He is their top scorer and brings life and excitement to a largely dull Manchester United team. Rashford, however, recently picked up an injury against Norwich. He started the following game, an FA Cup replay with Wolves, on the bench, though following a lack of ability to score, Rashford came on and provided enough pace and excitement for the Red Devils to eventually breakthrough. Quickly following this goal, Rashford picked up a back injury. United later revealed that it was a double back fracture and that Rashford was facing two to three months out. A floating bone in his ankle which he had played with for some time will not help with his recovery either.
Suddenly the Red Devils’ season looks to be in peril, but who is to blame for United’s injury crisis?
Who is to Blame for United’s Injury Crisis: Medical Staff?
One example which quickly comes to mind when thinking about the United medical staff’s relationship to the Reds’ injuries is Pogba. He has returned from injury twice this season, however, following one or two appearances, he has returned, yet again, to the sidelines. The medical staff were the people to clear him as fit for Solskjaer to chose on both occasions, and they seemingly used no caution at all. Being one of United’s best players, you would expect the United medical staff to treat Pogba carefully but even with the warning of it having happened before, they rushed the Frenchman back, and it has resulted in him being out for longer.
McTominay also played when potentially carrying an injury when he picked up his injury against Brighton. The medical staff also seemed to rush him back from his injury which proved unsuccessful and has backfired.
Rashford’s injury could also come down to a decision made by the medical staff. He was playing with a floating bone in his ankle for a year, something the medical staff would surely have deemed sensible to remove during the summer break. Furthermore, as he picked up a knock against Norwich and needed a break following an extremely busy festive period, it would have made sense to totally rest him for the Wolves match. The medical staff could have deemed it necessary for him to take a break from playing for a week to prevent any possible injury.
Who is to Blame for United’s Injury Crisis: Manager?
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has come under fire this season for the Red Devils’ underwhelming performances. He could also get the blame for their injury crisis.
With a history of injury and poor fitness, it would make sense for Luke Shaw to come off before full time fairly regularly. This, however, did not happen at the beginning of the season, and Shaw picked up a long-lasting hamstring injury from it.
Despite the medical staff also being partially at fault for the injury of Scott McTominay, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could have done his bit to prevent aggravating an already existing injury. He did not do this, however, and with Solskjaer leaving him on for the full 90 minutes following a nasty tackle causing him to come off days before, Scott McTominay was out for another month after coming off deep into injury time against Brighton.
Rashford’s injury, furthermore, was partially the manager’s fault, and he has admitted it. Bringing on the young Englishman in a match they may have won anyway was not the most intelligent move, especially given his lack of fitness going into the match. Solskjaer admitted that his move to bring on Rashford “backfired”, but it is possible that without the challenge which caused the injury, Rashford could have continued playing and not picked one up.
This season will go down as a year of rebuild for Manchester United as they try to stick to their three-year plan. Injury may have stopped them from getting the success they might have hoped for, however United went into this season knowing it was going to be difficult with a squad lacking depth. The question remains, however: who is to blame for United’s injury crisis?