With news surfacing that Everton midfielder Marouane Fellaini will require ankle surgery that is likely to keep the Belgian out for up to six months; it marks just the latest in a long line of terrible injuries suffered from key players at Goodison for a club suffering some terrible luck.
Fellaini injured himself in the Merseyside Derby against city rivals Liverpool nearly 2 weeks ago when he appeared to stamp on big centre half Sotirios Kyrgiakos whilst the Greek simultaneously went in with a two-footed lunge. It was a rare incident where both players involved in one challenge both deserved red cards despite Moyes’ quite frankly bizarre protestations that Fellaini did little wrong. The Greek seemed to the brunt of the challenge at the time but as Fellaini hobbled off it appears he’s now set to miss the end of the domestic season and is facing a fight to be fit in time for the start of the next. This is just the latest in a long line of long-term injuries suffered from star players at Everton.
Moyes’ Everton side have coped admirably well this term and last and after Phil Jagielka was ruled out with an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury which cruelly robbed him of a place in last season’s FA Cup Final against Chelsea. His superb form last season had propelled him into the England reckoning after starting away in the friendly to Spain and he seemed one of the few centre halves in the Premier League capable of shackling Liverpool striker Fernando Torres on a consistent basis. Just as his reputation was growing and a place in the World Cup squad beckoned he was struck down with injury and is at present eight months out and counting and reportedly only limited to light jogging at the moment.
As much as Jagielka is a key player for Everton, the side’s undoubted star is midfield maestro Mikel Arteta. A player of such quality that he could walk into almost every side in the Premier League, his creative spark and excellent ball control dazzled the Goodison Park faithful but on February 22nd he was struck down with a knee ligament injury that has sidelined him for almost a year until he returned late last month to widespread applause and relief with a substitute appearance against Birmingham City on January 23rd.
It doesn’t end there either, young striker James Vaughan had a spell of over 19 months on the sidelines after suffering a serious knee injury that required surgery, but after breaking down not once, but twice the slow progress has hampered his progress. Fellow academy graduate Victor Anichebe was also ruled out for just over a year with another knee ligament injury that he took longer to recover from than anticipated. The striking department took a further hit when Yakubu was ruled out for just over 9 months when a ruptured Achilles tendon in an away match against Spurs ruled him out of last season from November onwards before being involved sparingly in the first team this term.
So why does this keep happening?
These are the sort of injuries that no manager can plan for, these are not especially injury prone players and although the injuries are all knee ones it would be hard to find a link between these injuries and training as more often than not the players in question are the victim of terrible challenges in top flight matches. Unlike those suffered by Arsenal, where players such as Walcott, Rosicky and Bendtner are apparently made of balsa wood and at Liverpool where players like Fernando Torres have been rushed back from previous injuries such is their importance to the team, there is no particular reason for these at Everton and it has to just go down as some supremely rotten luck as Everton head physio Mick Rathbone has been kept extremely busy for the past year or so.
But the way Moyes has handled his side and juggled his squad with the absences of key players must mark him out as one of the country’s leading managers and a frontrunner for the Old Trafford hotseat should Fergie ever decide retirement agrees with him.
Often marked as overachievers (nonsense) and contenders for the Europa League spots and with a fine FA Cup run under their belts last year, it just serves to highlight that although they will miss Fellaini, a player in such great form this season, Moyes and Everton will know how to deal with an injury of this magnitude and as long as the Scot remains in charge Everton, they will always be there or thereabouts despite the injury hoodoo that hangs like a dark cloud over Goodison.
Written By James McManus