Short Or Long Term Problems? Injuries
We’ve got a great series from Josh Flint regarding Stoke’s short and long term problems.
Here, Josh focuses on our injuries. Over to you, Mr Flint…
Anyone who follows me on Twitter (@jtflint2008) will know that after Sunday’s game at Crystal Palace I could not see Mark Hughes halting the fall we are currently enduring.
This was not a rash comment. It was a considered one following our form at the end of last season combined with our start to this season.
However, the 48 hours since have made me question my original call for our manager to be given one more league game. Whilst I have yet to be convinced either way on this matter, these are my current thoughts on our situation. First up, I’ll take a look at injuries.
Is it true that we never used to have the injuries that we are having now under Tony Pulis? Yes.
From Robert Huth in our first season under Mark Hughes to Jack Butland now, we always seem to have a key squad member injured for a lengthy period of time. Going back to Huth’s injury, we all panicked- especially after Marc Muniesa’s less than convincing debut at Goodison Park.
Marc Wilson stepped in afterwards and became a mainstay that season, contributing with captain Ryan Shawcross to a -7 goal difference. For the start of the following season, Wilson continued and managed to hold off Huth- on his return- eventually forcing him out to Leicester on loan and also culminating in the arrival of Phillip Wollscheid who took the Irishman’s place for most of the second half of the 2014-15 season. Wollscheid helped the squad to a +3 goal difference. The common theme to that date was that despite the injuries the back four was largely unaffected, with Begovic in goal, Bardsley or Cameron at right back, Pieters at left back and Shawcross the regular centre half.
Heading into the 2015-16 season, Ryan was injured and we welcomed a new right back in Glen Johnson. Nothing too drastic to worry about. Marc Muniesa was given a chance to impress alongside Geoff Cameron, although after four games Marc Wilson was given the shirt…he didn’t hold on to it for long.
Last up is Phillip Wollscheid who not only managed to help the team to their first league win of the season but also their first clean sheet followed the week after at Villa Park.
Skip ahead a few months and Ryan Shawcross returned from injury. What followed was a run of seven clean sheets out of 12. Across the next five months, the back four suffered injuries to Shawcross, Johnson, Wilson whilst Muniesa and Wollscheid are nursed through games just so senior players are on the pitch. Add into the mix an injury to Jack Butland who has yet to make his league return…is it a surprise we are leaking goals as we are?
If we still concede goals with a settled back four then Mark Hughes will have no way of waving off his critics, but perhaps his post-match comments after the Crystal Palace defeat have some merit. After all, this section has looked just at the defence…analysing the effect of injuries to the midfield and forward line could take up an article of its own.
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