Brendan Rodgers might be one of the best football managers on the planet earth, and his coaching staff and medical team might also be among the best, but looking at the way they are working to avoid injuries on players they must have overlooked the fact that nothing of this are in seperate boxes but part of a total picture.
The situation is complicated and you have to see everything in a total context and not seperate injuries from the way you set up your team, how you select players and how you chop and change systems.
Pre-season is one to be careful about since the way you decide to play your team can affect the balance and as we did see this term getting strange injuries to players with very bad outfall, and it all comes down to how players is set up in different situations and that team selections often are random.
The risk to pick up injuries in such situations are huge as nothing is balanced. If the manager decide to play players out of position or together with people they seldom play with you are in a risk of getting injuries, so keep it as tidy as possible and play players in one half in a steady set up and then change. To be able to keep it balanced is a key and play players together that knows each others movement is also to take into careful consideration.
Premier League is one of the hardest games to play and to both handle contact and be skilled to control the ball in the best way possible is a difficult act to manage. You often see insane tackles with knobs hitting players here and there, but why are you attacked? because you are in a situation that makes it possible to attack you, and how do you avoid that?
Why are not the best players in the world knocked down all the time and insane tackles given, because they know how to protect themselves, when to play, when to dribble and balance speed as you go forward.
First of all if you are to avoid those tackles you need to be able to pass the ball faster and get your moves correctly. Harvey Barnes, James Maddison and Ayoze Perez are often players getting bad knocks as they often either keep the ball to their feet too much and moves often makes you exposed for those tackels, if you pass the ball faster and make a run instead you will get a better passing game, and tackles will be impossible.
So to speed up the game with quicker passing is a key to avoid knocks on your body. Playing the ball on the floor is of course something you should do to avoid headers and air disasters. The way you handle the ball when you get it to your feet or body is another aspect and you have to look at all of this to see how injuries in games happen and of course how it appear in training.
To change systems and especially making adjustments in different moves and how players should interact is also injury threatening as you decide to make changes in a players settled movement or just want to make a random change. Wesley Fofana when he got his injury, he was not in a position he usually is and why was that and what movement made it possible for the tackler to make his move. You can relate this to boxing described as the noble art of self defense, and few do think about self defense in football but that should play a big part of the game as it moves forward. To always be in a position that avoids an injury to happen is a skill. To not have the ball might be what you would like to say is the best way to avoid a tackle and it is true that is why football is a passing game and one thing coaches mess about is “pass and move” and of course passing the ball to a player that has a chance to pass it on might be a good idea.
Goalkeepers are seldom injured and that is simple, they are not part of the teams systems, and they act inside a specific area and movement in a very repeated act.
To make system changes in a team could be one key reason for picking up injuries as you adjust the movement of players and their interaction in zones will be different with spaces and unatural movement coming in conflict with what they did a week before.
Looking at teams that does not adjust too much and have the same system played and using more or less the same players will often be seen as less injury exposed.
We did see this in the season when Leicester did win the Premier League. They had no system change and made little or no changes in team selections. Players played week in and week out with more or less the same routine and team. To be able to get a good rythm is also good for avoiding injuries, with days of training and days of games being much the same.
The rotation game of players is also something to take into consideration when you decide to do your moves as a manager. Sir Alex Ferguson used 30 players a season when he won all those titles. The key to this was that everyone knew about it and they accepted and knew it was part of the picture and Sir Alex knew when to play his players and when they were ready to do the job. He did not get it correctly all the time but most of it.
Brendan Rodgers have to know what risks he takes when bringing in Patson Daka to the club. Used to play two games a week for many years and suddenly he is not playing more than a few minutes every Saturday and also randomly used in Europe, and what happens, injuries.
So if you chop and change systems, players and decide to confuse them with change of rythm, you will not get the result you are chasing for. A good rythm is vital and you will over time with too many changes make it difficult to adjust and this will give you more exposure for injuries as your routines gets untidy and you cannot foresee what is coming next.
Some players needs longer time to adjust to find their rythm. Being thrown into a game in Premier League is a stress factor and you learn your level by repeated activity, that is why younger players often get a high on a debut and fall flat in the next game as you are not in the balance and your experience on how to handle a new challenge in this environment will be learned by repeated activity.
Love to see Brendan Rodgers starting on a new path not chop and change systems for the fun of it, instead please adjust the level of press and not adjust the system. Looking at movement between players in a 3-5-2 and a 4-4-1-1 or a 4-3-3 you will find different lengths between the areas to cover and how you should act as a first or second defender and to change that from week to week will give you a few injury troubles over a season.
Loved to watch Shinji Okazaki perfectly placed in that role between Jamie Vardy and the midfield. It was a perfect fit, any other position on the field would not be seen as perfect and with another player up front probably not working as well as it did with Jamie. When Claudio made his fatal decission to drop Shinji he did not see how this affected the rest of his team that did not act on the same strings and you got challenges a manager of Claudio’s calibre should have known instead it became his nemesis. Without Shinji in the team and set up you had to adjust almost everything and the rythm was different with Danny Drinkwater, Nampalys Mendy (injured) and Daniel Amartey playing with a totally different movement than Shinji and Ngolo, but with both out you had double trouble at once. This has a massive effect on your ship as it is totally out of balance and injuries will most certainly happen as you have not planned your rythm and how to play. Players adapt but you cannot copy the movement of Shinji and Ngolo, with Amartey and Mendy or Slimani, it is a totally different ball game.
This has a massive effect on how you pick up injuries and how players will be exposed either by being too late in a tackle or not being able to handle the pressure your team is using. Eleven players acting as a unit and knowing each other inside out is the key to a good result and to avoid injuries.
If you need to change you are again in risk of bringing injuries to the table and the best way to avoid it is to slot a player into the position you have missed your first choice for this position and not move one of the other players. Instead of two changes you make only one. This is a simple rule to follow and following rules is an important fact.
So for TCF the reason for injuries is basically too many changes to systems used, too many players to chose from and not giving the players you have the correct balance between playing, training and rest. How you manage to build up a plan for a season and not have too many options as a manager, chopping and changing your team selection and systems as you will just end up as Leicester are at the moment, with players injured after being used wrongly and not been ready when appearing.
It could of course be down to bad luck but as we all know science will tell you something else. Managers with a big ego always will upset balance and not take all of this into consideration, if he had, he would not have done what he does and had all of the injuries he have.
An example would be to look at Jamie Vardy. His attributes as a player will always come first and the manager will always see his strengths and underestimate science and the plan for rest, game time and training and take a risk and hope for the better, often or almost he will end up with an injury problem.
In my view Jamie Vardy should play every Premier League game but not be involved at all in Europe and other games. The same with Jonny Evans and possibly Kasper Schmeichel as the three are so vital to a Premier League win and their age clock is ticking. To field a mix of players in different competitions might be an idea, but if you make a random selection you will expose yourself for injuries.
Looking at the masters of this game, Liverpool and Man City they have a smaller squad than Leicester, but with more quality. When Brendan Rodgers talks about depth in squad I don’t really know what he is talking about, because those two clubs have 20 very good players and behind that youth, not a lot of older and mature players walking in the park and they are clever to adjust their teams when using the youngsters. This is a well known method for winning and if you chop and change and keep players out of game situations too long, injuries are a risk.
To avoid injuries you need a steady pattern and not too many changes from day to day as you have to be settled and ready for the challenge in front of you, if not the risk of injuries and failure is huge.
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