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Man United Injuries Threaten Season

Saturday 1st April 2017
Mounting at the worst imaginable time, Man United injuries are threatening to derail Jose Mourinho's first season in charge. The Portuguese's blame game bingo received another entry on Friday evening when news emerged regarding Juan Mata's groin operation. Mourinho has probably lost his most productive creative spark for the season.

United have nine games in thirty days. That's one every three days. It will be a gruelling, demanding schedule made worse by injuries to Mata, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, and Paul Pogba.

The Red Devils desperately need Champions League football next season. Without it, United's hierarchy will face a tremendous battle. Frustrated commercial partners will breath hot air. Priority transfer targets will seek greener pastures. With this in mind, Mourinho needs a fit squad, healthy and raring to fight on several fronts.

Yet, just when United need to descend into second gear and rev its engine, injury woes look to put a cog in the Devils' exhaust. So, how sorely (pun intended) will each player be missed?

Paul Pogba

Mourinho has been reticent about Pogba's injury, unwilling to set a return date. A hamstring injury brought the Frenchman off in the Europa League clash with Zorya Luhansk. Pogba had started nearly every game since his return to Old Trafford. If Mourinho is honest with himself, he should have foreseen an injury.

Pogba does not receive the praise he deserves. His abrasive price tag shadows every move. An astonishing figure, £90 million. No one seems worth so much money. Even Aristotle, Plato, or Socrates would have a hard time justifying that.
Yet, Pogba has been important for United this season, even if he has failed to find regular form. Connecting back and front fours, the academy product has assumed a proxy between defence and attack. Prior to his injury, he had completed the most passes in the final third throughout Europe's top league and had forged a proficient, dangerous partnership with Zlatan Ibrahimović.

In his absence, Mourinho will look to maligned Belgian Marouane Fellaini. For all his good work this season, and there has been some, Fellaini is no Pogba. There's no doubting the Frenchman's composure will be missed.

Smalling & Jones

Both injured on international duty, Chris Smalling and Phil jones' loss was nightmare news for Mourinho. Now left with just two recognised central defenders, Eric Bailly and Marcos Rojo, the United boss will be praying for no more injuries to his defence.

Bailly and Rojo have been impressive this season. Bailly has quickly become a fan favourite. Rojo's fearlessness and desire have been applauded as well. Yet, one suspects the pair will not last nine games in thirty days. Baily has already had a lengthy lay-off . Rojo frequently picks up little niggles and muscle injuries.

If either pick up injuries, United face a defensive crisis. If he is uncomfortable bringing Daley Blind or back into the middle, or experimenting with Matteo Darmian, Mourinho may have to give an untested youngster a baptism of fire as he pushes for the Champions League. Not good.

 

Juan Mata

United's creative spark, Mata has proved everyone wrong this season. Fans feared the worst when he was substituted just moments after coming on in the Community Shield, the press quick to call out Mourinho for playing petty games.

However, Mata has been instrumental to United's attack this season and has recently chipped in with a few vital goals. Only Ibra has more for the club. The Spaniard's absence will be palpable. Despite Henrikh Mkhitaryan's best efforts, he is simply unplayable at times. Mata's vision and awareness are streets ahead of many at United.
 
Michael Jones

Football & political writer with a predictable love of everything retro. English Literature undergraduate at the University of Exeter, looking to pursue a career in sports journalism. For a collection of my work, visit. http://mikejonesmedia.wordpress.com

Follow me on twitter: @jonesmichael_97


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