… As the list of injured players at the club keeps growing. At a time when the cold, dark evenings are getting longer, and games will start coming thick and fast, we were hoping that the list of ‘crocked’ players will start to shorten. Instead, it got longer during the international break.
First we had Michael Carrick being sent home from England duty because of a groin problem. Then David de Gea dislocated a finger while training with Spain, and though that didn’t seem too serious, it might keep him out for about a week. After that we watched Daley Blind as he hobbled off while playing for Holland.
At this point, we were dreading the irrelevant friendly fixtures on Tuesday night, and with good reason. While representing England against Scotland, Luke Shaw suffered a minor groin strain, and then Angel Di Maria got trod on by the ever so intelligent Nani, who seemingly stamped on Di Maria’s foot, leaving him writhing in agony on the pitch. Considering Nani still gets his wages paid by United, he might have been a little cleverer when tackling a team-mate in a meaningless friendly.
I understand international breaks have to happen as nations need to try and qualify for the next major tournaments (there’s also a whole programme of African Cup of Nations qualifiers in midweek), but to keep players away from their clubs just to play an extra friendly that’s not going to achieve much apart from ‘glamour’ and more money? Well done Mr.Platini and company.
Of course I’m having a moan because of all the extra injuries, but it’s not just United that suffer. Having a quick glance at some of the games, important players like Modric and Thomas Muller have got injured while playing for their countries. Yes, it means a lot to represent your country, thankfully most players still see it as their pinnacle (not English ones unfortunately), but to have them go back to their clubs after getting injured in friendlies is something UEFA and FIFA should be looking at. Oh, wait, but that would mean the main football associations making less money! Never mind then.
On a better note regarding United players, captain Wayne Rooney scored a penalty on his 100th cap for England, then scored a brace against Scotland to take him up to 46 goals. That puts him only three away from all-time highest goal-scorer Sir Bobby Charlton, having played five games less; Robin van Persie scored Holland’s first goal in their 6-0 thrashing of Latvia; and Fellaini’s elbow found the face of Joe Allen in the Belgium-Wales game. Though it did look like a bookable offence, he’s not going to face any punishments from UEFA.
In other news, FIFA are once again making a mockery of what football should stand for (Fair play, right?), by releasing their judgment on the Garcia report. It stank so bad that Michael Garcia himself has come out and criticised it. Just a few days after declaring that Russia and Qatar didn’t do anything wrong while bidding for World Cups 2018 and 2022, FIFA have filed a criminal complaint with Switzerland’s authorities as it suspects that its investigators had uncovered criminal activity by some member nations. Doesn’t this mean that the original report can’t now be made public, because it’s in the hands of the law? The mind boggles on this one, as Blatter and his cronies seem to have found another way to sweep their dirty doings under any carpet they can find, while deflecting attention from themselves by blaming others, mainly those who don’t make part of their organisation anymore.
Back to United news, the club has announced a 10% decrease in revenues, mainly due to last season’s incompetence and not qualifying for the Champions League. But don’t worry, as Ed Woodward put our minds at rest by saying that players’ profiles on social media are improved once they join United. Apparently Blind’s followers on Twitter increased by 72% once he came from Ajax, and there was a “12 times increase on Google searches for Di Maria when he joined United.” So never mind struggling in the league and not playing in Europe, as he said “United are winning the off-field battle.” Ok then.
Looking at this weekend, United travel to London to face Arsenal in a Saturday evening kick-off (5:30pm UK time). Arsenal have injury problems themselves, including our former player Danny Welbeck being doubtful after he too was on international duty. Though United will be missing some (many) important players, there should still be enough power left in the tank to make the best of it and come back to Manchester with a point or three… COME ON UNITED!!!