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Manchester United: The Story Of Injuries This Season

Manchester United have been plagued by injuries this season, with the club having more than every other side in the division bar Newcastle United. Erik ten Hag has named 92 different sides during his 100 games in charge of the club, and the vast majority of those 92 changes have come within the realms of this campaign. United are struggling to keep players fit, and it’s causing severe problems on the pitch.

Erik ten Hag has spoken about the injury situation at length and detailed how it’s hard for the team to build partnerships in the side due to the ever-changing situation within the backline. United’s most frequent defensive partnership this season has been Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Raphael Varane, Jonny Evans, and Diogo Dalot, who have played together on four occasions this season. United’s favourite backline of Dalot, Varane, Lisandro Martinez, and Luke Shaw have played together just once, against Newport County in the FA Cup.

Sympathy For Ten Hag & Injuries:

It’s a situation for which Erik ten Hag certainly deserves some sort of sympathy. There was a lot of criticism regarding United’s performance and the way the manager set them up yesterday at the Etihad, but with eight senior injuries in the side, the question to be asked is whether there was actually much else he could have done?

Rasmus Hojlund’s injury has proved a killer blow at what was a really promising time for the team, with two defeats in three games after a run of five wins in a row prior to his injury. It’s been the tale of United’s season, and with Marcus Rashford and Jonny Evans carrying knocks throughout yesterday’s game, it does not look like it will be ending soon.

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United have named 23 different defensive combinations this season so far, to put that into context, that’s four more than Liverpool had named at this stage in the 20/21 season, when they had a string of injuries to their back four, which included Virgil Van Dijk and Joe Gomez. United have played just four games this campaign in the Premier League in which they have not had to change their back four, with the number of days their players have missed through injury 15 days away from reaching 1000. 27 players have been injured in the squad on 47 separate occasions.

The only three players to have avoided injury or illness in the entire squad is Diogo Dalot, Bruno Fernandes, and Alejandro Garnacho. Fernandes actually would have missed the Nottingham Forest game mid-week if he had not of played through what Erik ten Hag billed as a serious injury, sustained in the Fulham game days earlier.

Much is made of United’s Champions League campaign, but against Bayern Munich away from home at the beginning of the group they were without 10 players. Them players included Mason Mount, Luke Shaw, Harry Maguire, Raphael Varane, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, and Kobbie Mainoo to name a few.

Against Bayern at home, Maguire and Shaw were both off within the first half, adding to a list of Anthony Martial, Casemiro, Lisandro Martinez, Victor Lindelof, Marcus Rashford and more. United have not been able to name a squad without at least five players missing at any stage this season, in fact, out of the 38 games United have played this season, they’ve had 10 of more players unavailable for 14 of those fixtures. For the Liverpool draw at Anfield, United had 10 players unavailable, with Bruno Fernandes banned. For the Manchester City game at the weekend, they had eight players unavailable.

  • Amad: 29 Games
  • Rasmus Hojlund: 8 Games
  • Casemiro: 17 Games
  • Eriksen: 9 Games
  • Martinez: 28 Games
  • Luke Shaw: 23 Games
  • Mason Mount: 25 Games
  • Wan-Bissaka: 18 Games
  • Malacia: 38 Games
  • Rashford: 4 Games
  • Mainoo: 15 Games
  • Maguire: 11 Games
  • Varane: 7 Games
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Where do you draw the line? There’s no question that in some games United should have played better, and the argument can definitely be made that Erik ten Hag should have the crop of players at his disposal playing better football, but are we to believe United wouldn’t be closer to the top four if they had them fit for a bit more of the season?

The argument will be that Unai Emery and Ange Postecoglou have had injuries but still have been able to come up with results, and that’s true. Emery, however, has had significantly fewer injuries than Ten Hag, but it’s certainly an argument Ange could use. He has nearly the same number of injuries and days missed, but the Dutchman has still boasted the most.

Personnel Issues:

For Ten Hag, it’s the players that are getting injured more than the number of injuries. Luke Shaw and Tyrell Malacia have missed the entire campaign more or less, as has Lisandro Martinez. Those who know Ten Hag’s fixation with angles will understand how detrimental not having a left-footer in the buildup is to his philosophy, which begs the question as to why United sent Sergio Reguilon back on loan as well as allowing Alvaro Fernandez to leave.

Harry Maguire has missed games, which has also been a huge blow as United have had to rely on Jonny Evans, who will likely have come to the club this summer expecting a bit part role, to mark the likes of Erling Haaland in games such as yesterday. Anthony Martial’s injuries have meant that Hojlund has had to carry the burden of being the lone centre forward at the club at just 20 years old, which is taking it’s toll on his body right now, and of course, Mason Mount. The star signing midfielder in the summer, who has missed nearly every game possible for United this season.

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It’s been far from an ideal performance for Ten Hag with what he has had on the pitch, but some sort of sympathy should be given to him for the players he has unavailable off it.

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