Injuries always have and always will be common-place in football. They can happen to any player at any time of the season and when they do, one thing – frustration – is guaranteed.
Of course injuries most of the time cannot be predicted and when they do pack up and hurt a squad at any level of the game, the manager, no matter how good he is, has to reshuffle his line-up and make the best out of a bad situation.
In Manchester United’s win over West Brom yesterday which saw them get of to a winning start for the new Premier League season, Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic hobbled off after half-time forcing Sir Alex Ferguson into bringing on Jonny Evans and Phil Jones to see out the remainder of the game.
Now both Evans and Jones did well when they were brought on and denied Albion’s hard-working forwards Somen Tchoyi and Shane Long even the sniff of having a clear-cut goalscoring opportunity. After all it’s far from easy having to step up unexpected at the start of the season and both looked comfortable together in the heart of our defence and made sure David De Gea in goal wasn’t really tested late on.
After the game Sir Alex revealed the extent of Ferdinand’s and Vidic’s injuries and the outlook doesn’t look particularly promising. Ferdinand is estimated to be out for the next 6 weeks after suffering a hamstring injury. Vidic’s time on the sidelines will probably be confirmed in the next couple of days as for the moment the team do not know the extent of the injury which forced him off.
Hopefully for United, Vidic is not ruled out for too long as there’s no doubt his absence from the team will hurt the team more-so than Ferdinand, after all the Serbian is the captain of the team and probably when-fit the best defender in the League, period.
When you add into the mix that Rafael is going to be ruled out for the next 10 weeks after dislocating his shoulder in training on Friday, it certainly means that the young trio of Evans, Jones and Chris Smalling are certainly going to have to ‘step up’ and be counted on early on at the start of the season.
Yes losing our two best defenders is undoubtedly a blow early on in the season, but let’s really think about this for a second or two – it could have been a lot worse!
Who remembers the almost ridiculous set of injuries that struck the team back in December 2009, which culminated in a 3-0 defeat to Roy Hodgson’s Fulham at Craven Cottage, when incredibly United went into the game without having a recognised centre-half or even a full back who would be able to slot in and feel comfortable in the role.
That day incredibly as it sounds, Darren Fletcher and Michael Carrick had to pair up at centre-half and whilst the duo were not embarrassed on the day, they could not cope with what Fulham fronted by a motivated Bobby Zamora were handing out to them.
Back on that day even the versatile duo of John O’Shea and Wes Brown were absent and had both been fit there’s no doubt they would have slotted in with no concerns about them. Of course both have since moved on to Steve Bruce’s Sunderland this summer and there’s no doubt that their experience would definitely boost the team right now.
But times change and let’s be thankful that even in the youth of Evans, Jones and Smalling we have good cover in our defence which will be boosted by the return of Patrice Evra as well at right-back.
Some fans may have doubts about how the young trio will cope with their added responsibility this season, but in letting Brown and O’Shea go in the summer, clearly it shows that Sir Alex believes that they can cope if called upon.
One of the great things about our club is that more often than not in our history, young players have been given the chance to impress. Yes no fan would have wanted to see our two first-choice centrebacks hobble off after the opening-game of the season, but now the cards have been dealt and it’s up to our new breed of defenders in Evans, Jones and Smalling to show their hand right now, when the team requires them to step up and hold their nerve.
By Adam Dennehey @ADennehey87