Tuesday 18 June 2019

Revealed: Manchester United have used five more players than any other Premier League club this season

Injuries have forced Louis van Gaal to field 37 players this campaign despite playing fewer matches than almost any other club

The troops: Louis van Gaal has made use of 37 players this season
The troops: Louis van Gaal has made use of 37 players this season

Manchester United have been forced to field five players more than all other Premier League clubs this campaign despite playing fewer matches than almost any other side.

Louis van Gaal's squad has been beset by injuries since the Dutchman took charge at Old Trafford, with David de Gea, Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie and Juan Mata the only players to have started 15 or more league games.

Injuries to Rafael da Silva and Luke Shaw in the FA Cup victory at Yeovil Town on Sunday took the tally to 55 separate injuries suffered by United's players since Van Gaal joined the club on July 16.

Such problems have seen United field 37 different players in all competitions, five more than Arsenal and six more than Crystal Palace and Everton. At the other end of the scale Aston Villa and Sunderland have used just 23 players this season.

The statistics are all the more surprising considering the lack of cup football played by Van Gaal's side this campaign. United did not qualify for the Champions League or Europa League, while they were unceremoniously dumped out of the League Cup at the first time of asking by MK Dons and have played just one FA Cup fixture.

Arsenal and Tottenham have already navigated nine more fixtures than United, using fewer men in the process.

Mike Phelan, Sir Alex Ferguson’s former assistant manager at United, last month claimed Van Gaal must shoulder the blame for the ongoing injury crisis after overhauling the fitness regime at Old Trafford.

Shaw and Angel Di Maria have both suffered five injuries since Van Gaal took charge, with 25 first-team players spending time in the doctor's room at some point this season.

Phelan, who was relieved of his duties at United by David Moyes in May 2013, claimed that Van Gaal’s decision to move fitness coach Tony Strudwick from his first-team role may have contributed to the injury problems.

"What's happened is a continuation of the same players getting injured all the time, so you have to look to the reasons why,” Phelan told the International Business Times.

“I think Manchester United changed their thoughts on the fitness regime, they looked at it a little bit differently.

"Tony Strudwick, who was operating as head of sports science, was involved day to day with the first team.

“He understood the ins and outs of how to keep players fit, how to keep them ready for competition.

“Then suddenly they moved him sideways and did something completely different. That may have had an effect. That one area has changed.”


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