Last night, Liverpool slumped to another embarrassing defeat in the Premier League. This has once again stirred up discussion on Rafa Benitez's future as manager of Liverpool Football Club.
TV pundits, and Rafa himself, have claimed how "unlucky" Liverpool have been with injuries this season and in past seasons. Managers often blame poor runs of form on injuries to the team. This is a valid point as teams that suffer fewer injuries tend to perform better, however I would argue an injury crisis is not usually down to luck alone.
Some reasons why some teams may have more injuries than others:
1. The manager has inherited injury prone players
2. The manager has bought injury prone players
3. The manager's sport science and sports medicine staff are not doing a good job
4. The manager does not allow the sport scientists and physiotherapists to do their jobs to the best of their ability and/or over-trains or under-trains the players with technical & tactical training
5. The manager does not rest key players when appropriate
6. Bad luck
I would argue that 1. & 6. are beyond the managers control. The other 4 factors - the manager / staff can influence (and yes many of them are linked). This is turning into a rant mainly because it is so frustrating to hear these millionaire managers bemoan how they have such bad luck. Yes bad luck (such as the recent Aaron Ramsey injury) may have a role - but rather than crying and cursing the powers that be, we (managers, coaches, sport scientists, strength & conditioning coaches, physiotherapists) all need to look carefully at what we do. Are we doing everything that we can do? Are we looking at the big picture?
No football manager or coach bashing intended here. The rest of the staff has a massive role in this. However the manager ultimately has control over the staff and makes the final decisions.
I am not trying to say that avoiding injuries is a simple process because it is not. Neither am I claiming to be an "expert" on injury prevention. What I am trying to get across is that we as a staff HAVE to take responsibility for what happens to our players. We are not powerless in this, and we must do everything that we can to keep our best players on the pitch.