This article was prompted by the recent injury to Hatem Ben Arfa in Newcastle’s 0-0 draw with Sporting Kansas City, but it’s something that has concerned me for quite some time.
As I write this, we sit at the top of the Premier League injury table alongside Spurs and the rabble from down the road and my perception is that we get a lot of injuries compared to other teams.
However, my perception might be clouded by the fact that I support Newcastle, so I set about trying to find some historical stats about injuries and – in the main – failed dismally to do so. I did find a site called LadyArse – a gooners’ fan site – which does contain an injury list that has us 5th, but I can’t vouch for the accuracy of said table.
Another thing that might cloud my perception is that injuries to key players are obviously noticed more than those to squad players, and we seem to have had a lot of those in recent seasons too.
So I guess my first question is: do we get a lot of injuries for a Premier League club?
My impression is that we do, although I can’t back that up with evidence, so if you think we don’t then you may as well clear off and do something more interesting than read the rest of this post (such as watch paint dry)!
If we do get a lot of injuries then the next question is why?
I think the most obvious reason would be that we are buying players who are prone to injury in the first place. Maybe with such things as Demba Ba’s knee we’re taking a risk and should fully expect a greater frequency of injuries if we do so. I’m using that as an example, by the way – I’m no doctor so I don’t know how bad Ba’s injury is or whether it’s even a concern – but, if we are buying injury-prone players, then surely we should stop doing so.
Another reason – at least before the hand of Ashley swept through the transfer policy – might be that we were in the habit of buying older players under the guise of ‘experience’. However, the older you get the more often bits of the body break. It’s just the way things are in all walks of life, which includes professional sportsmen. Think Owen or Viduka, for example. If this is one of the reasons why we’ve had so many injuries in the past (and I tend to think it is) then at least we are addressing through a transfer policy that prefers youth these days.
One more reason might be to do with our training and physio arrangements. Could we be pushing players too hard in training? Or even too little? Are our medical staff up to the job? I really don’t know the answer to that (and I certainly don’t intend to cast unwarranted aspersions on NUFC staff) but maybe it needs to be looked at. Perhaps the new underground heating will help, allowing us to train more effectively during the coldest months.
The final reason might be plain old bad luck. I think that’s certainly the case with Ben Arfa – there isn’t much he could do about de Jong’s crunching tackle (oh I say missus) after all – but you can only blame bad luck for so long before having to accept it’s more than mere coincidence.
I’ve mainly asked questions here rather than providing answers as I simply don’t know.
But what do you think?
Do we get a lot of injuries? If so, why? And what can we do about it?