However there is an elephant in the room, and one that it seems a lot of our fans wont hear about, our injury problems are not normal imo, can anyone remember anything like it? i Cant.
Last season Radz criticized Thomas Christiansen for not rotating enough during the Xmas period, a moot point because imo he didnt really have much room to do any rotation.
Yesterday we learned that Pablo Hernandez was injured, there is no information on the timeframe, he could be back soon, he may not.
Over the 5 game Xmas period starting December 1st vs Sheffield United and ending December 29th against Hull Pablo played 568 minutes of football in 4 weeks, thats a lot of football for someone 25 playing a sedate style, but playing our style with the pressing thats an extraordinary amount for a 33 year old.
He is now injured, what type we dont know, but i imagine that its pretty logical to suggest that those 5 games have caught up with him.
During that time,Klich, BPF, Jansson, Phillips, Hernandez, Alioski, Forshaw and Roofe started every game and largely played almost all of it.
We now know Jansson and Roofe have been carrying knocks (but now recovered), Hernandez is out.
This season we have used 21 starters in the Championship, doesnt sound that few, but 8 of those have played less then 8 games, 3 have started 1, 1 has started 2 and 1 has started 3. So effectively we have used just 16 starters this season.
We know Bielsa likes a small squad, and there are probably plenty of clubs with similar numbers, but there are no other sides who play like we do, who press, who run as much who rest as little and train so intensely.
From our 21 starters in the league, Ayling, Dallas, Douglas, , Cooper, Jansson, Hernandez, Roofe, Berardi, Forshaw, Roberts have all been injured. From the rest of the squad we can add Bamford and Pearce.
I dont think ive missed anyone out.
Not a week seems to go by where we dont have someone else injured, not only do new players get injured but there are recurring injuries, Izzy Brown, Patrick Bamford, Gaetano Berardi, Pablo Hernandez, Barry Douglas, all on there 2nd injuries this season.
You can excuse Brown.
But Patrick Bamford? was he ever ready, fully fit? no, from his own mouth he was still feeling pain when he came back.
Luke Ayling has looked very out of sorts since he came back, and Barry Douglas to doesnt look the same player since his 1st injury spell.
I dont think its so much a medical miracle as has been said by the club, i think we are rushing players back before they are ready, i dont think Izzy Brown was ever ready to come back, i dont think Bamford was ready and i dont think Douglas has been fully fit since he hurt his hamstring vs Hull back in October.
And i really dont think Ayling is fit now, i think there are a lot of our squad playing with injections, thats never good imo.
Hamstring injuries are common with over training, Douglas had one, Hernandez had one, Berardi to., Cooper as well.
Dallas had a quad injury early doors, another that can be caused by overuse.
Bamford has a knee injury, ok thats probably a twist, but they brought him back and he gets reinjured, same knee apparently, not as serious, but the club are being coy, no return date set.
As much as we admire Bielsa is it naive to suggest his methods arent atleast partially responsible for this?
He wants the small squad, the intense training, the intense style, these are all hallmarks of a Bielsa side and plenty of ex players have spoken about how physically exhausting it is.
Bielsa himself has said (paraphrasing) " if players were robots id win everything".
That shows how he thinks.
He doesnt believe in rest, or rotation, or exhaustion, these are things that shouldnt happen, he doesnt believe in limits.
As much as i admire Bielsa he clearly has a bit of a blindspot to what his methods inflict on players, they arent robots, they need rest, they need time to recover, you cant keep pushing them if you want to keep the small squad fit.
is it all Bielsa's fault? of course not, thats dumb, injuries happen.
But is it partially his fault? almost certainly yes, there are to many re injuries, to many injuries that are common with overuse and to many players getting injured for it to be normal wear and tear imo.
Admire Bielsa, thankful for what he has achieved, but a small squad, lack of rotation, intense playing style, intense training with few rest periods, tough in any league, in this one with its physicality and the games coming thick and fast, then its a dougle edged sword.
Bielsas methods have got us where we are, but they also may be what causes us to fall, unless the manager backs down on his transfer stance (he has now thank god) so now the board must back him before our thin squad breaks.
I did worry about our players overplaying at Christmas, no changes were made except Douglas in for Davis. It was obvious Jansson, Phillips, Klich, Roofe and Pablo desperately needed a rest. We could've given Roberts, Baker, Shack, Clarke, Halme more game time.
BPF - Cooper - Alioski - Hernandez - Bogusz - Bamford - NEW
Alioski - played in every game and internationals (not even rested for the cup match)
If it was burnout then every player would have suffered and certainly no player would be able to cope - especially someone like Alioski who puts in a 'great shift' every match.
Plenty of teams have had horrendous injury lists at times and weren't all managed by Bielsa. Far too easy to simply jump to conclusions simply because we have had injuries this season.
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