Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has reportedly told his players to toughen up after more than 40 injuries this season alone. At times this season, the majority of the experienced central defenders have has long spells on the sidelines, meaning the likes of Tyler Blackett, Paddy McNair and even Tom Thorpe have spent periods of time in the first team, with Blackett and McNair that standout players mentioned. Jonny Evans and Phil Jones have both been absent for some time, with Evans nearing full fitness after spending time with Warren Joyce’s U21 side, getting in more than 150 minutes of play in two matches. Jones meanwhile has just returned to training and could be back in the squad for the busy festive period, where United will play four matches between the 20th December and New Years Day, which will be a big boost for the side.
The People on Sunday reported that the former Netherlands coach had been very concerned about the injuries sustained this season, which most of the time has been the same players getting injured. The manager is reported to have told his players to be ‘prepared’ to play through their pain barriers, which, if true suggests that some players are not doing that at the moment. The People cite an ‘insider’ as to where the information has come from, with quotes saying:
“The manager has been shocked by the number of injuries and he’s told backroom staff he’s never known anything like it. But he is also concerned that the same players are getting injured and he wants them to toughen up.”
Obviously injuries are something that happens in football, and at times there is nothing anyone can do about them. The fact that some players have had more than one injury, and going back to previous season, the same players have spent a lot of time on the sidelines, shows there is a problem, which cannot be blamed on any individual coach or managers routine, being as over the last three seasons, there have been four managers leading the team (including Ryan Giggs’ for match tenure). Then there have been many coaches involved in the three managerial positions, so it is not something that can be blamed on an individual, apart from the players of course.
I find it hard to believe that a manager has asked players to play through their pain barriers, as surely in some cases, that will just cause more damage to players, but in terms of some players, that advice could be adhered to. At this moment in time, only Luke Shaw, Daley Blind and Angel Di Maria are on the sidelines with Phil Jones, Jesse Lingard and Rafael da Silva all returning to training last week. Shaw and Di Maria are not long-term injuries, with Blind on the sidelines with a knee injury sustained whilst playing for the Netherlands during the last international break a month ago. He could be back after the Christmas period, which would leave no players in the sidelines (touches wood).