By North-west correspondent Alex Stevens
Steve Coppell has pointed the finger of blame at Louis van Gaal for Manchester United’s crippling injury list.
United have 10 players sidelined after Jesse Lingard and Paddy McNair limped out of Saturday’s 2-1 Premier League defeat to Bournemouth.
Astonishingly, United have now lost six players in their last three matches, with Lingard (hamstring) and McNair (cramp) following Chris Smalling (groin), Matteo Darmian (hamstring), Morgan Schneiderlin (hip) in sustaining new injuries. McNair also suffered an ankle problem in the goal-less draw against West Ham seven days previously.
Questions are being asked of the injury prevention methods of Van Gaal and his staff as the team struggle to cope without so many first-team players.
Ex-England winger Coppell, a successful manager at Crystal Palace and Reading and who once made 207 consecutive appearances for United, is bewildered by the growing injury problems at Old Trafford.
“Injuries have to be taken into account but why so many injuries?” Coppell told BBC’s Sportsweek programme on Sunday. “There has been talk of training being too intensive. If the squad can’t take it, then it should be eased up.
“The philosophy that Louis van Gaal has talked about for so long, it’s difficult to distinguish what that is. The players sometimes do not really understand what he’s trying to get through to them.”
United crashed out of the Champions League when a youthful team lost 3-2 to Wolfsburg last Tuesday and followed up by Saturday’s loss at the Vitality Stadium.
“Success in football is relatively easy,” Coppell told Sportsweek. “If you spend the most money, then you buy the best players and you have the best team. If that formula breaks down then a cog has gone wrong and the cog that has gone wrong appears to be the manager.”
Van Gaal expects Smalling, Darmian and Herrera (hamstring) to be back for the Premier League home match against Norwich on 19 December but is not hopeful about Wayne skipper Rooney while Marcos Rojo, Luke Shaw and Antonio Valencia will be out well into 2016.
The growing fear for United is that Rooney, who has missed the team’s last two matches with an ankle injury, could also be sidelined for the back-to-back Stoke and Chelsea matches on 26 December and 28 December, ruling him out until 2016.