By Tony Attwood
When Untold gets its teeth into a story we like to dig in deep, and not give up until we’ve got to the bone.
OK, perhaps not the best idiom when I am about to talk about injuries, but I’m sure you know what I mean.
You’ll remember the era when we had lots and lots of injuries seemingly going on for years. We even had the Year of the Seven Left Backs. Now we have far fewer it is not an issue – except it has popped up as a concern with Bayern Munich, where Doctor Hans-Wilhelm Muller-Wohlfahrt and his three top staff have quit the club, after the manager blamed the top doc for a series of injuries.
That is interesting, not just because it gives us another perspective on injuries, but also because Bayern’s manager is the closest thing football has to a god, so when he has a fall-out it is a bit like the heavens’ shaking.
When injuries were the issue of the day at Arsenal, the aaa blamed Wenger’s training methods, the fact that the manager wouldn’t listen to his medical staff, a fault with the pitch, a fault with the training pitch, and even the players’ diets.
We also looked at the way the referees treated teams, and how in some cases the cloggers among the playing fraternity, unable to keep up with the speed of our players, used the only resource they had, and how they got away with it.
Indeed it is a viable theory that a ref who has been bought through Type III match fixing really need do little other than let the defence of a lesser talented team hack us to bits. That not only makes it harder for us to win that match, but can affect the next five matches with players being out injured.
A while back Untold did a summary of the findings of the press, and Walter did a complete in-depth series of articles on injuries, and we’ve also had quite an inquiry into the rabid world of Raymond Verheijen who very much blamed Wenger – as well as everyone else. (Except himself – he seemed to have found the holy grail although never quite got around to telling any of us where it was). There’s an index to the series below.
But let’s move back to Bayern, after which I want to put forward a new (or at least new to Untold) explanation as to why injuries can suddenly take hold of a club and spread.
So… all is not perfect in the world domination world of Bayern in that they were recently beaten by Porto 3-1 in the quarter finals of the Champs League. (Imagine what would happen if this were Arsenal. It would be like being beaten by Monaco or someone. There would be calls for the manager to be hung, drawn and quartered.
But unlike Mr Wenger, who never blames anyone within the club and shoulders all responsibility, Guardiola doesn’t accept responsibility. He said, ‘We have players who were out a long time with injuries … their legs don’t last very long,” and he pointed at the medics.
The doctor in charge of putting broken bits back together said, “After the Champions League match of Bayern Munich against Porto the medical department was for some inexplicable reason made primarily responsible. The bond of trust is damaged,” and he and his team walked out.
Could the great god Guardiola be slipping? After all one must remember, the only top coaching job he had before Munich was Barcelona. Maybe he’s not quite invincible after all. (They are 12 points clear at the top of the league but then they have twice as much money as the rest of the league put together so that is not surprising).
Certainly Guardiola didn’t have much to say about the entire doctoring team leaving. “It was his decision to leave. I respect his decision that is all.”
Which isn’t much to say about the guy who Usain Bolt claimed was the core of his Olympic successes. But gods tend to be a bit like that. It comes with the territory.
But that leaves the whole issue of injuries, and why sometimes we have lots and sometimes not so many. And indeed the question of whether we have more than other clubs.
If you look at the list on Physioroom at the moment QPR have nine players out at the top of the injury league, while Arsenal, Burnley, Leicester and WBA have two. It is a big gap.
But of course, who is injured is also an issue. Our problem earlier in the season was with getting several players injured in the same position. And there is the problem with bringing back players who have been out for a long time – as we have seen with Theo, getting up to the previous top level can be very hard indeed. Obviously it is not just a numbers thing.
However there is another element, which I had not thought about before with injuries, and which I only came across when discussing this article yesterday with a senior nurse.
She made this simple point: it doesn’t matter how many machines you have got monitoring an individual, in the end you are also reliant on the individual telling you what he/she feels.
Which means you are at the mercy of a player lying to the medics about where the pain is, or if there is any pain at all.
So consider this scenario. You are a young up and coming professional player, but you are currently number two in the squad to another guy. That guy gets injured, and this is your chance. You play, but in the second game you get a twinge. Normally you would follow the rulebook and mention it at once to the doc, but this is your big moment to get in and make a mark. The lead player in the squad in your position is only out for three weeks, so you have to take your chance. You ignore the twinge and play on.
Next thing we know, both our lead player and the back up are out injured. And the injury to the back up player which should have been tiny is actually now very big because it was exacerbated.
Of course we talk about footballers being professionals, but you only have to look at their behaviour both on and off the pitch to know that sometimes they are also idiots, so the scenario seems likely.
Do they lie about pain? Of course they do. Not all, by any means, and not all the time, but some of them do, some of the time.
Maybe that is why one or two highly promising players get sold – because they can’t be trusted to tell the truth about their injuries. Maybe that’s why some players who really look so promising seem to fade away and end up in the fourth division because they are MEN who can play through pain.
It’s an interesting insight.
Well, I think so.
Untold on injuries…
- Introduction and part 1
- Part 2: average injuries per season analysis
- Part 3: Arsenal compared to other teams
- Part 4 : The risk for each player
- part 5 Non-contact injuries
- Part 5.2 – an aside. Raymond Verheijen
- part 6 Ankles, foot and back injuries
- part 7 Broken Legs
- part 8 How to Hurt a Player and Not get a Card
- part 9 Broken Legs – the analysis in detail
- part 10 Knee Injuries
- part 11: Shoulders and Thighs
- Part 12 Injuries and the number of games