Following Newcastle United’s goalless draw against Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park at the weekend, Newcastle currently find themselves lying 10th in the Premier League table. However, there is one table that the Magpies regularly find themselves at the top of and that’s the injury one. Once again this season, Newcastle have been blighted by injuries, but is this purely down to bad luck or is there more to it than that?
Newcastle currently have a bit of a cushion at the top of the Premier League injury table. Their seven injuries puts them two ahead of the likes of Blackpool, Sunderland and Tottenham. At the moment Shola Ameobi, Dan Gosling, Steven Taylor, Alan Smith, Stephen Ireland, Ryan Taylor and Hatem Ben Arfa are all injured, and if they’d kept hold of Andy Carroll in the January transfer window he’d still be on the treatment table too. So put plainly, why do Newcastle have so many players out injured right now?
I think the transfer policy has to be questioned to some extent. While Ameobi’s, Ben Arfa’s and the two Taylors’ injuries are just unlucky, Newcastle bought the other players knowing full well about their fitness issues. Alan Smith suffered a career threatening injury at Manchester United and is out for the season again with an ankle injury, Dan Gosling had a serious knee injury when they signed him from Everton and that has unsurprisingly flared up again, and Stephen Ireland is still out of action following his loan move from Aston Villa. So should Newcastle be more stringent about the state of fitness of the players that they purchase?
I can understand to some extent the reasoning behind signing Gosling, as he is a talented youngster who will be a real asset if he does recover, but Ireland is a different matter altogether. When Alan Pardew was looking to strengthen in January, who did he end up with? An injured midfielder whose recent form has been patchy to say the least. With the amount of players already on the treatment table at St James’ Park the last thing they needed was another crocked player.
Perhaps more worrying is the news that came out of Liverpool last week with regards to Carroll. It was reported in the Daily Mail that Carroll spent little time in the gym while on Tyneside and is said to be shocked at how hard he is being made to work to get fit at Anfield. Then of course there’s the fact that the Geordie lad likes a drink, something that’s fine now and again but footballers are professionals and should act that way. The feeling at Newcastle was that as long as he was delivering the goods on match day, then away from the pitch he could do what he wanted, this is far from responsible.
I remember that when Sam Allardyce took over at Newcastle he said his sports science team would transform the fitness levels at the club, but that didn’t exactly happen. Now it’s the same old story at St James’ Park and yet again Newcastle’s progress is being hampered by injuries. I’m sure all supporters will tell you that their club has a load of injuries, but the stats don’t lie and Newcastle are top of the poor fitness table. Perhaps in the summer they should steer clear of injury prone players; it’s just a thought.