The new Premier League season is upon us and Manchester United fans are expecting another jam-packed campaign.
Last term, Erik ten Hag’s side played a staggering 62 games – missing out on only three potential fixtures in the Europa League.
And supporters can probably expect a similar amount of matches to be played by The Reds this time around – the Dutch boss has made it clear that he values every cup competition and wants to win silverware with the club.
However, there will be one large change from last season in terms of actual game time – there will be even more.
We’ve already seen eight, nine and even ten added minutes for Premier League games in the opening weekend. In the Community Shield last week, Arsenal scored an equaliser in the 111th minute of the game.
Attempting to knock time-wasting out of the game, the rule change could cause something else entirely: Injuries.
There have already been several high-profile injuries in these first games. Arsenal’s new signing Jurrien Timber was forced off against Nottingham Forest, Tyrone Mings left the pitch after just 31 minutes with what looked to be a terrible injury in Aston Villa’s opening day loss, whilst outside of the Premier League, Eder Militao fell to injury in Real Madrid’s first La Liga game of the season.
Kevin de Bruyne also was forced off the pitch in Manchester City’s opening game, and Chelsea’s new signing Christopher Nkunku is out for several months after a pre-season game – although some would blame the pitch in Chicago.
The list could go on. Simply, footballers are playing a lot of football. And this rule change, where 15-20 more minutes could be played in each game only spells more injuries for the season.
One player who has tabled his concerns about the situation is Manchester United defender Raphaël Varane.
The defender, who has experienced his fair share of injuries during his illustrious career, explained how players and managers have shared their concerns about playing too much for years. “The schedule is overcrowded, and it’s at a dangerous level for players’ physical and mental well-being,” the Frenchman said.
However, the new rule completely goes against that. “Why are our opinions not being heard?” he added. “We want to be at our maximum level, the best we can be and put on amazing performances for fans to celebrate every week.”
With injuries already occurring, we can only think about what will happen when these players are playing twice, or even three times a week in the midst of the season.
Despite Ten Hag being desperate to compete on all levels, he must take Varane’s concerns about the rule changes into account throughout this season. Rotation will be even more important.
Managing the workload of players could be a vital part of this season if the eight or more minutes of added time continues as the norm, it is something that needs to be addressed to avoid injuries to important players.
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