“It never rains but it pours” so the old saying goes. Manchester has long been renowned for being a wet old town due to the large amount of rain that it gets but when it comes to football on the red side of the City, it has been pouring down this season – injuries that is!
Players have been going down like nine pins – especially defenders. No sooner does one return to some sort of fitness than another is struck down – and they have not been for just one or two matches either, most have been out of action for weeks and even months at a time!
The latest victim to be hit by what seems like a curse is Wes Brown who last week won his 23rd cap for England in the 3-1 defeat of Egypt. The 30 year old utility defender suffered the injury in a challenge with Matt Jarvis in United’s 1-0 win at Wolves on Saturday.
He left Molineux with his foot in a protective boot and the results of a scan on Monday revealed a fourth metatarsal break – the same injury he suffered just over a year ago, which will leave him out of action for at least two months. It also looks like bringing to an end any World Cup hopes he may have had.
This setback is the latest in a long list of blows that have at times decimated a much vaunted defence which last season set a Premier League record of 14 consecutive clean sheets and only conceded a total of 24 goals. By contrast, United has already leaked the same amount in the 29 Premier League matches played so far this season.
Manager Sir Alex Ferguson must be wondering how many black cats have crossed his path as one defender after another, including goalkeeper Edwin Van der Sar, succumbed to what many turned out to be lengthy injuries. Without wishing to put a jinx on him, left back Patrice Evra has been the only one out of a dozen or so recognized senior defenders who has managed to play in every game thus far.
The injury to Brown has at least followed encouraging reports that both John O’Shea and Owen Hargreaves are on the comeback trail possibly becoming available for selection at the tail end of the season.
That has been the frustrating story for Ferguson with him losing one player just as another returns – and it has not only been defenders. A long list of names which at one time or another included Anderson, Ryan Giggs, Michael Owen and Federico Macheda as well as Dimitar Berbatov who is being nursed through a knee injury which requires surgery and Wayne Rooney who at this stage is still in doubt for the Champions League decisive tie against AC Milan on Wednesday night.
With a maximum of 15 matches remaining should Ferguson lead his side to the Champions League Cup Final in Madrid, he will need all his cunning experience to overcome these hurdles and add more silverware to the already secured Carling Cup.
Which player was the most sorely missed because of injury?