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Are Chelsea the new Newcastle United?

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Mourinho blames them for not having won the Premier League this past season, while everyone associated with Newcastle blames them for not having performed well at any point in time over the past several years.

Indeed the ominous injuries play a huge part in a team’s season and it seems that they will always haunt particular clubs or players. But maybe, just maybe, these injury crises are not the result of a Merlin jinx as many fans tend to believe. What if they are related to how the players are trained and how many minutes they play per week?

As the Daily Mail carefully pointed out, title rivals Manchester United and Chelsea have accumulated fifteen injuries between them before the season has even started. The curious thing about the injuries in the Old Trafford camp is that only one of the seven occurred during pre-season, that of Paul Scholes. New signings Hargreaves and Nani arrived injured while Gary Neville, Louis Saha, Solskjaer and Park Ji-Sung are carrying injuries they suffered last season.

In the Chelsea camp, the situation is rather different. While Michael Ballack, Ashley Cole and, to some extend, Andrei Shevchenko are nursing injuries suffered last season, the majority of Chelsea victims have picked up or aggravated injuries during the pre-season.

If it is all just a curse, than Chelsea look set to be the next hard hit team, taking over from Newcastle United. The treatment room at Stamford Bridge has constantly had at least one member since the horror injury that occurred to Petr Cech last autumn. There is no doubt that some of those injuries have only been the result of bad luck, however something seemed peculiar: there were more and more injuries, and the players took much longer than expected to recover. But there could be another crucial factor that might have triggered the ‘plague’.

I have not followed the pre-season friendlies with much interest, but one thing I have been keeping an eye on this summer is the results of the top five teams in England for those warm-up matches. The first thing that struck me was the amount of games Chelsea have played. Looking back I did find out that they played six games in the space of just sixteen days on two different continents. All of a sudden, the injuries that Chelsea have had to deal with are no longer a surprise. However Chelsea are not the only team to play an outrageous amount of pre-season friendlies, so why are they the most affected?

Bad luck might play a part, but what is more likely to be the cause of the ‘injury curse’ is the treatment of the players by the club. Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho admitted that he made a mistake when he rushed Terry back to action last winter after his skipper had undergone surgery, but one would think that he learned from his mistakes. Instead, the Chelsea boss, has again been hit by a number of short-term injuries suffered by players whom he rushed back into action. The first was Wayne Bridge; the full-back had still not recovered from a hip injury he picked up in the England set up earlier this summer and he aggravated the injury in training. As if that was not enough defensive trouble for Mourinho, he chose to play John Terry against Rangers despite the fact that his captain had suffered a broken toe just a few days previously.

The list could continue, but the point has been made. Players, and more recently Chelsea players specifically, are sidelined either because of poor man management or physical strain. It is important to note that Chelsea players could play well over fifty games per season. Not only are they expected to play well, they are expected to reach the latter stages of every competition they play in and most of them also have international duty. But can the coaches do anything about this? Well, they should. Note that apart from a few players that are continuously injured at Anfield, the squad is generally healthy.

It should be agreed that there is little one can do to prevent injuries like the one which ruled Paul Scholes out for a few months last year or the Petr Cech one which nearly ended his career, but when they do occur the manager has to handle the situation very carefully. And Mourinho should not blame injuries if he loses a match in the next few months. He should “not argue with the facts” to put it in his own words.

I made a few mentions of Newcastle United and their injury crisis without elaborating. Their case could be more of bad luck, for instance Joey Barton has had very few injury problems during his time at Manchester City, but as soon as he came to Newcastle he is sidelined for a few months. But then the recurring injuries to Owen or Dyer raise some questions over the treatment that the players receive at St. James’ Park. Maybe they really are cursed or maybe the milk in Newcastle does not have enough calcium, but most likely the training routine and the care that injured players receive is at fault. (I wonder if Big Sam will bring his ‘vibrator’ machines over at Newcastle…)

Comments (13)

  1. Interesting article. I’m keen to know if you have any information as to why Arsenal suffered so many injuries last season. People tend to think because we had quite a few players in World Cup & Euro qualifying teams but what do you say?

  2. i think (and its just me) Jose intentionally rushed the injured players in so that he can have new excuse for his failure……

  3. The difference between Newcastle’s injury problems and Chelsea’s injury problems is that whilst Newcastle’s injury problems cost them Chelsea’s injury problems only cost them in combination with the fact that their million dollar back-up players were severe failures.

  4. Very interesting article, and there’re definitely some signs that you’re right as well… obviously you mention these yourself.

    But look at how, Alex Ferguson takes care of his players. Hargreaves and Nani both had minor problems (perhaps like Lampard and Terry’s broken toes), but they weren’t allowed to play (despite them being new players unlike Lampard and Terry), until they were fully recovered. That’s the general way, Ferguson deals with injuries: accepts them and moves on.

    In Mourinho’s case, things appear to be a little different, and I think it’s connected to the fact that he’s way more under pressure now, than he’s ever been in his time at Chelsea. His first 2 seasons were smooth, he cut through the league like a warm knife in butter and had few injury concerns. Last season he was trailing the whole season and probably rushed players back… the tendency seems to continue.

    I think that unless Mourinho changes his attitude and accepts these injuries in stead of using them as an excuse, he’ll continue having these injuries, simply because he doesn’t know how to deal with them. If you accept the injuries, you’ll tend to move on in stead of getting stuck in a vicious circle that brings more and more players to your field hospital.

    Having said that, as a United fan there’s nothing better (in terms of news from other clubs) than seing Terry sidelined for another month at this crucial time of the season.

  5. Good article, what I noticed most about last season was that when Jose had the injuries at every chance he was whining and moaning about it which may have put more pressure on his injured players to get back and resulted in them maybe aggrievating their injuries even further. I also noticed how much more press coverage Chelsea’s injuries got over United’s. Towards the end of the season United’s whole back line were injured at one time or another and yet there was no article about Ferguson saying that this cost them the CL so maybe you have a point in the article.

  6. How can you say that Owen’s injuries are down to their treatment at Newcastle. He broke his leg, what can they do about that. And then he damaged his knee badly playing for England. Neither of those injuries were preventable.

  7. Owen is dogey not newcastles fault

  8. The vibrating tables have been here over a month

  9. Michael Owen has horrible luck with injuries. I think the thing that needs to be looked at is the amount that some of these players play for the national team. As an Arsenal fan Henry provides the best example, France basicly ruined his season last year. Even when Henry wasn’t playing entire matches for Arsenal because Wenger was concerned with his fitness, Domenech selected him for meaningless friendlies that further aggravated his injuries. By the end of the season Henry had an injury that ruled him out for the remainder of the campaign and, in my opinion, was suffering from a burnout that lead to him leaving Arsenal.

  10. no. newcastle are better than chelsea any way so there u go.

  11. imo newcastle had far worse injury problems than chelsea, who lost their keeper and arguably best player terry without these two in the team the premiership witnessed the real chelsea, a home draw to reading folled by another home draw to fulham then yet another draw this time at villa park, chelsea just couldnt stop conceding goals and imho without drogba in there team they would have struggled to score aswell. Chelsea were faviourites to win the prem last season and rightly so, free spending, c a player you like? Give Big bucks Abramovic a ring and hes in the chelsea team!!! Chelsea should be the best team in the world by now if all had gone to plan, however they are not, man utd once again have their trophy back and have vastle improoved their squad, unlike chelsea: tal ben haim – free (bolton) steeve sidwel – free (reading) pizaro – free (bayern) and last but not least malouda for around 13mil and it looks evermore likely that they are going to sell robben who i regard as one of there better players, but what do i no. Man utd will win the prem again with an formidable attack force that will strike fear into the hearts of defenders up and down the country, the question being who 2 mark??? the list seems endless: rooney, tevez, ronaldo, giggs, nani, anderson and not forgetting the ginga ninga himself and with OH in the squad surely now man utd have the best midfield and indeed team in the premiership. The title has come a year 2 soon 4 liverpool and arsenal should be more wary of tottenham that the top 3 of united chelsea and liverpool.

  12. vibrating machines – not sure i like the sound of that. Suppose it’s gonna work when he says “if you get injured we stick super dong vibrator up your ass” – we’ll soon see the injury list go down :)

  13. okay i have been on holiday so i have not been abole to reply to these, but in case you get around to reading my comments here they are:

    steve, you made me laugh for about an hour with your comment :)

    as to why arsenal were crocked last year I think it was because of too many games like the World Cup and Euro qualifyers but i think that the fact they went behind so many times also played a part since they had to work more to get back into the games rather than just realx towards the end like Man Utd tended to do.

    Don, owen broke his foot a while into his Newcastle career not in the first day of training like barton did so it might be down to the diet that the manager kept him on (you do know that they are told what to eat, right?). maybe he did not have enough calcium or maybe his bones are weak, but that was not a hard tackle when he broke his foot.