By Bulldog Drummond
Talk of the new season being just around the bend means talk of injuries – but this time not so much of Arsenal injuries but of Manchester Airport. For quite amazingly, in the few days after Untold’s complaints that the media are still banging on about Arsenal’s side being decimated year after year with injuries because of the ineptitude of the Wengerian training techniques, we now have a sudden switch with Sky Sports running the headline
Can Pep Guardiola find a solution to Manchester City’s injury woes?
I suspect Robson’s last outing on Talk Sport finally made the media aware that the man has one or two problems with historic statistic abuse, and so in a story by Nick Wright the point is made that “Manchester City struggled with injuries last season, while Bayern Munich had problems throughout Pep Guardiola’s tenure.”
They then go on to to quote Physioroom statistics (the source we use on a weekly basis in the season) for the clubs with the most players injured. They only quote the top five, but even so, it is an interesting move away from the gross and false generalisations about such matters. I am sure it couldn’t be that Sky have taken any notice of Untold, any more than BT took any notice when we raised a bit of noise about the way Arsenal’s official broadcasting partner was running anti-Arsenal adverts in the run up to the season a couple of years ago. The fact that BT suddenly changed stance was, of course a coincidence. As is Sky’s change of stance.
Here’s the top five clubs for injured players last season that Sky are quoting.
Arsenal were a poor 14th in their chart. (And I should add that last December Sky ran the headline “Manchester United have suffered more injuries than Arsenal since start of 2014/15″)
Thus while there is much gnashing of teeth etc etc about Arsenal’s dreadful performance last season, there was even more of the gnashing with Manchester Airport just struggling into the Champions League play off spot. Manuel Pellegrini said in December, “It is difficult when don’t have your whole squad and you have an average of six or seven players injured every game.” Maybe Stewart Robson should listen to the tapes. Or look at the stats. Or perhaps just keep quiet.
So you would imagine that given the high number of injuries the Airport suffered last year they would bring in a new manager known for his ability to curb injuries and have a calm and quiet relationship with his medical support team. But look:
In the 2013/14 campaign Bayern had injuries to Thiago Alcantara (15 games), Javi Martinez (12), Franck Ribery (10) and Bastian Schweinsteiger (9). And then, according to Sky Sports, in 2014/15 he managed to knock up Philipp Lahm (14), Arjen Robben (13), Philipp Lahm (14), David Alaba (15) and Rafinha (6).
Then when people began to question what was going on Guardiola responded in his normal manner: he blamed the medical staff childishly clapping his hands in front of the faces of his highly qualified medics when yet another player went down injured. (Problems with medics. Ring any bells? Chelsea last season maybe?)
It got to the stage, you may recall, when only 14 first teamers were available. After further sarcasm Dr Hans-Wilhelm Muller-Wohlfahrt and the entire senior medical team resigned, saying that they could not accept the manager’s interpretation of events.
So the whole medical staff went, and obviously logic suggests if it had been them, rather than their wild and marauding manager with strange training beliefs, the injuries should have gone back to an average level. But no, even with a new medic team in 2015/16 Jerome Boateng, Benatia, Javi Martinez, Mario Gotze, Robben, Ribery and Juan Bernat missed nine or more games each and Guardiola was seen getting “muy agitado” (you can work that out for yourself) after the Champions League semi-final defeat to Atletico Madrid.
Bild reported that the wild man of player injuries was incredibly angry with his medical staff for taking too long to get his players fit, while claiming that other teams could do it far faster.
Now while much of the English press thinks that when Guardiola approaches a lake it tends to back off in a hurry to avoid him having to walk above it, in Germany he became something of a laughing stock because of his outbursts. Indeed there was surprise when a team known for its injury troubles (the German press takes the reality version of Premier League injuries rather than the Robson / Talk Sport fantasy version), should be appointed to a club that has multiple injury issues.
But, it may be argued, he kept winning the league and got to three consecutive Champions League semi-finals in a row. However the reality of German football (often hidden by the British media which love to see it as a model because of its apparent low cost of entry) is not like English football.
In the 21st century Bayern have won the League 11 times. Their nearest rival is Dortmund with three. Three other teams have won it once each. On eight of these occasions they have won the double and once the treble. There simply is no opposition. We may laugh at Spain’s two or occasionally three team league, but that looks like tough competition compared to Germany. The money is never an object, and winning the double is the starting point, the base line, each year. 61% of the campaigns this century have been won by the same team.
So how will the temperamentally unsound one with a penchant for sarcasm towards medics do this year? Man City have played three pre-season games and had one fiasco in which both they and their neighbours forgot to check that the pitch they were to play on in Foreign Parts, was ok. Can you imagine what the press would have done to Wenger if it had happened to us? Here are their results…
- Bayern Munich 1 Manchester City 0 (20 July)
- Manchester City v Manchester Utd cancelled due to gross incompetence
- Manchester City 1 Borussia Dortmund 1 (28 July)
- Manchester City 3 St Johnstone 0 (3 August)
Because of the money of their sponsor and their knowledge that they are going to suffer a catastrophic run of injuries under their new manager they are buying everyone possible including…
|Date||Position||Player||From club||Transfer fee|
|1 June 2016||MF||İlkay Gündoğan||Borussia Dortmund||£20m|
|30 June 2016||MF||Aaron Mooy||Melbourne City FC||Free|
|1 July 2016||FW||Nolito||Celta de Vigo||£13.8m|
|4 July 2016||MF||Oleksandr Zinchenko||Ufa||£1.7m|
|2 August 2016||FW||Leroy Sane||Schalke||£37m|
|3 August 2016||FW||Gabriel Jesus||Palmeiras||£27m|
|6 August 2016||FW||Marlos Moreno||Atlético Nacional||£4.75m|
Of course they have to buy, to keep up with expectations and precedent. Last year they were the biggest spenders and paid out the two biggest amounts: £55m for Kevin De Bruyne from Wolfsburg and £49m for Raheem Sterling from Liverpool.
Here is last season’s league table with net expenditure (ie money out minus money in) added to the end. Manchester Airport as we know came fourth in the league but were top of the spending charts. They had a net spend fractionally under eight times the net spend of Arsenal and managed amazingly to get five points fewer than Arsenal and despite Arsenal, as we all know, not having a goalscorer, Man City scored only six more goals than Arsenal! An amazing achievement.
|POS||CLUB||P||W||D||L||GF||GA||GD||PTS||Net £m||£ pos|
|7||State Aid Utd||38||16||14||8||65||51||14||62||26.5||9|
So finally onto today’s game. Manchester Airport have Gundogan, Sane and Kompany injured and Samir Nasri is apparently in the dog house for being overweight. We have Wilshere who apparently is fit again but did not travel, back in London, and Welbeck, Mert and Jenkinson out, plus the Euro cup finalists.
There’s obviously not much team news between the Viking game and today so the most likely outcome is that we play mostly players who did not start in the last match.
That leaves us needing to use Gabriel again – which is probably not a bad idea given that he missed earlier parts of pre-season with tonsillitis. Xhaka obviously plays in midfield, and I guess next to Coquelin who also gets a second game in three days, allowing Xhaka to move forward when he can.
In the attacking midfield Iwobi didn’t start so can come in, with Ramsey in the middle, which leaves one space. I understand that the Ox has been in training all through the summer to try and prevent any further injuries so he should be the fittest. He can be replaced by Theo during the game.
All of this means that Gabriel, Coquelin and the Ox come off the pitch either at half time or more likely on the hour making way for the replacements.
Bellerin Holding Gabriel Monreal
The Ox Ramsey Iwobi
Adelaide, Akpom, Zelalem, and Willock are the young subs who would then fill in, along perhaps with Chambers.
So off we go again. Have fun.