Saturday 25 February 2017

Insults added to Mancini's ever-growing injury worries

Mark Ogden

Roberto Mancini has been accused of contributing directly to Manchester City's growing injury-list due to the physical demands of his training methods.

City are likely to go into tomorrow's Premier League clash against Chelsea at Eastlands with almost £120m worth of talent unavailable due to injury -- and the fitness crisis has left Mancini facing the prospect of having to play midfielder Gareth Barry at left-back.

The manager has already had criticism from a number of players, including captain Carlos Tevez and Craig Bellamy, now on loan at Cardiff City, over his training regime and preference for at least one double session each week.

And Mancini has now been castigated by Raymond Verheijen, a renowned fitness coach who worked under the Italian and his predecessor Mark Hughes last season before overseeing South Korea's training during the World Cup.

"Less injuries mean less money lost. In modern football, lots of money is still lost because of the methods of coaches and Manchester City are the perfect example," said Verheijen.

"After the arrival of Mancini things changed dramatically. He decided players had to do double sessions many times a week. Not surprisingly, the players picked up eight soft-tissue injuries within the first two weeks.

"In the second half of last season, City had a dreadful injury record, which has cost the club an enormous amount of money. During pre-season and the first half of last season, Mark Hughes had all his players available."

Meanwhile, Arsene Wenger yesterday defended his right to attack "violent football" and said other managers such as Sam Allardyce and Tony Pulis should not take his criticisms personally.

The Arsenal manager said it was "not new" for him to clash with some of his peers but said he would not change his ways following the strong stance he has taken on the challenges his players have faced. The latest of those -- a tackle by Bolton's Paul Robinson on Abou Diaby -- provoked a backlash from Blackburn's Allardyce.

Pulis has been in dispute with Wenger since the injury suffered by Aaron Ramsey at the Britannia Stadium last season. Wenger said he would continue to speak out.

"Most of the time it was down to the fact I criticised violent football," he said. "When I say 'this is a bad foul', I just say 'this is a bad foul'. They (Allardyce and Pulis) shouldn't take it personally."

Wenger denied Allardyce's claim that he attempts to "use" the media to influence referees. "I don't do it," he said. Wenger received a one-match touchline ban for his behaviour during the draw at Sunderland last Saturday but refused to contrast that with the lack of punishment meted out to Robinson.

Thomas Vermaelen and Kieran Gibbs will miss tomorrow's league game with West Brom and there are doubts over Tomas Rosicky (ankle) and Emmanuel Eboue (knee). Cesc Fabregas is out with a hamstring injury. Arsenal will announce their latest set of financial results today, which are expected to show increased turnover and profits.

Elsewhere, Steve Bruce is to include Titus Bramble in his first team at the weekend despite the Sunderland defender being bailed by police investigating an allegation of rape. The 29-year-old was arrested on Wednesday in connection with an incident at a hotel in Newcastle but the club's chairman Niall Quinn has insisted that Bramble, a summer signing from Wigan, is innocent and the manager Bruce has added his support.

Bramble missed Tuesday night's 2-1 Carling Cup defeat by West Ham with a slight knock, but trained yesterday morning after being questioned by police and is in line to start tomorrow's Premier League match with Liverpool at Anfield. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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