It seems like a week doesn’t go by at the moment without a Manchester United player getting injured either in training or in a match. I can’t remember the last time that a Manchester United manager was able to name the same starting 11 in two consecutive games. Due to someone being injured in the previous game or picking up an injury in training in the build-up to a match. Before I started researching United’s injury situation I felt that they had been in this situation with all the injuries for the last six or seven seasons. So I have gone back to the 2007/08 season and summarised the number of injuries Manchester United have had each season up until this season in comparison with their fellow Premier League teams.
2007/08 Champions + Champions League Winners
The 2007/08 was a successful one with United winning the League by 2 points from Chelsea and winning the Champions League, but how were they affected by injuries. This is the best season we’ve had in terms of injuries over the last seven seasons. Even then we suffered 25 injuries, missing a total of 724 days over the season. Now the number of injuries we suffered was the sixth highest in the Premier League but the days they were out for was the thirteenth highest in the league. To me this says that maybe the injuries in this season weren’t that serious and probably just knocks. West Ham suffered the most injuries in this season with 39 while Arsenal’s injured players were out for the longest with a total of 2004 days. The average number of injuries a Premier League side would pick up in this season was 21, so United with 25 injuries were slightly above this average. The average number of days teams would lose players for was 854, therefore United were below the average on this, this is what makes me think that United didn’t really suffer any long-term absences in this season. Overall there were only three Premier League teams that lost their players for more than a total of 1000 days. I think this shows that this season was a pretty good one in terms of serious injuries. Although I think you are always going to get a few serious injuries within a season and Arsenal probably suffered most of these in 2007/08 season.
Once again United finished the season as Champions, beating Liverpool to the title by 4 points. United suffered 33 injuries this season which was the third highest in the Premier League, United’s players missed a total of 1176 days with Owen Hargreaves being out for 239 days due to the long-standing knee injury. United were eighth in the list of days injured players were missing. Which I think again shows although United suffered a higher than average number of injuries for the league, they probably weren’t serious injuries and probably just slight strains that didn’t keep players out for long. Newcastle suffered the most injuries in this season with 37 and Manchester City had players missing for a total of 1594 days but suffered less injuries than United so they probably suffered more serious injuries. The average number of injuries for this season was 25, while the average number of days players were missing was 1044. So again United were above the average for the league in both. In the league overall there was a big contrast between most and least days missing. We can see that the number of injuries and days missing increased from the previous season so perhaps there were slightly more serious injuries in this season.
2009/10 Finished 2nd
Manchester United finished this season 2nd in the league to Chelsea, This was a season of a lot of injuries with all but 5 of the 20 premier League clubs suffering 20 or more injuries. While United only coming 2nd to Arsenal in the injury league table and United came 3rd in the number of days with their players missing 1398 days to injury. 13 of the 20 Premier League clubs lost their injured players for more than 1000 days. This season was one of many injuries for all clubs with only four Premier League players making it through the season without suffering any sort of injury. Again United were well above average in the number of injuries suffered and the number of days the injured players were out for, with only Arsenal suffering from injuries more than United. United’s defensive line suffered heavily with Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, John O’Shea, Jonny Evans and Edwin Van Der Saar all suffering injuries and missing big games which would cost United the league title.
2010/11 Champions + Carling Cup
Another successful season in terms of trophies for Manchester United with them regaining the Premier League title and also winning the Carling Cup. It was another frustrating one in terms of injuries for the club though, with them picking up 26 injuries during the season with only Antonio Valencia being the long-term absentee. He suffered a dislocated ankle which kept out from September 2010 until March 2011. United again were one of the most affected in the league by injuries. They were 4th in the injury with Tottenham suffering the most injuries and they also had players missing for the most amount of days, while United were 7th in this table losing their players for a total of 1068 days. United were again above the average for number of players injured and number of days they were missing.
2011/12 Finished 2nd
This turned out to be a nightmare season for United in terms of injuries and the fact they lost the league title to neighbours City on goal difference. Although when you look at the injuries suffered by both sides, United did so well just lose the league on goal difference. When you look at the fact that United suffered 39 injuries totalling 1651 days that these players were missing. While City suffered 7 injuries totalling 186 days. That’s a difference of 1465 days that these two sides had players missing. Not surprisingly United suffered the most injuries and had players missing for the most amount of days. On average United players were each out for 45 days, which equates to a month and a half each. United were well above the average number of injuries and days the players were missing. The average number of injuries in the league was 20 while United suffered near double that. Again United’s injuries affected their back line with not only losing Nemanja Vidic to a long-term knee injury. They lost Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Jonny Evans and Rio Ferdinand for long periods. This seems to be a similar story to the current situation with a lot of the same personnel missing far too many games.
What would turn out to be Sir Alex Ferguson’s last season in charge of United, they regained the title from City. It was same old story in terms of injuries though. Again suffering a high number of injures with 27 which was the 5th highest in the league and they missed a total of 1088 days, which was also the 5th highest in the league. United didn’t really suffer any real long-term injuries but did suffer 8 hamstring injuries out of the 11 muscular injuries they suffered overall. Of the injuries United suffered Nani missed a total of 67 days and Jonny Evans was out injured on three separate occasions, missing a total of 50 days. Again we saw United above the average number of injuries and number of days missing for the league. Six of the twenty Premier League teams lost their injured players for over a 1000 days, one these sides being United, this was a fifth consecutive season that United had lost players for over a 1000 days. Although the number of injuries suffered was an improvement on the previous season but was still at a high level compared to the majority of the other Premier League teams.
2013/14 Finished 7th
So we come to last season and even though Manchester United had a change of manager, the injury situation was just as bad and United really suffered for it on the pitch with them finishing 7th in the league. United suffered 38 injuries, which was the 2nd highest in the league but again these weren’t long-term injuries as the number of days that these players were missing totalled 1146 days which was the 7th highest in the league. The major areas of United’s team that suffered was the defence and the forward line. With defenders Phil Jones, Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand missing periods of the season and again saw United fielding an ever changing back line. While on the attacking side Robin Van Persie and Wayne Rooney both missed large periods of the season. So once again United suffered a higher than average number of injuries and number of days these players were missing.
So over the last 7 seasons United have been in the top six teams in terms of injuries suffered in every one of these seasons and twice being the team that suffered the most injuries in the Premier League. Over the seven seasons United suffered 225 injuries, so on average they would have 32 injuries a season. While the league average for that period was 24. So United have suffered well above the average for the this seven season period. Also over this period United lost there players for an average of 1183 days per season and in 6 out of the 7 seasons they lost their players for over a 1000 days. A lot of the same players have been the ones out injured in recent years especially in the back line, with Phil Jones, Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling all missing large periods in the last few seasons.
This season United have already suffered more injuries than in any of the previous seven seasons. At the last count it was 39 and that was before Daley Blind suffered his knee injury playing for Holland. While Angel Di Maria and Luke Shaw also picked up knocks while playing for their countries in the mid-week internationals. So are all these injuries just bad luck or is it something the club should be looking into. As these injuries have been going on for too long and it’s not just since Louis Van Gaal has taken over because some have cited the double training sessions he has supposedly implanted this season as the reason for the injuries this season. That may have something to do with it this season but the fact is it’s not a new problem for the club. United have suffered a high amount of injuries for too long now and I think it may be time to move some these players on that are continually out injured for long periods.