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Injuries, Blame the Coach!?

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Since this articlewas published I have been inundated with tweets and comments about how Monster Max Allegri is responsible for the injuries. It would seem his demonic training sessions and switch wielding ways have finally broken the soft, almost child-like roster of players we call AC Milan. 137 injuries, all of them on the Mister, uncanny really, but I have a secret to share. The Coach is not responsible, in fact far from it, but I think we need to discuss.

I have been discussing this sporadically on twitter and the comments, so my thoughts are a bit jumbled and I it may appear presented that way, and for that I apologize, but I the bulleted approach is probably the best route...

-The linked article above is rather interesting, as it is journalistic piece-meal, grabbing quotes from Galliani out of context and making things seem more combative then needed. What it didn't take into consideration is that Milan is/was home to three extremely injury prone players: Pato, Flamini, and Nesta. For those who love to use stats you may want to do some research, how many of those injuries alone are Pato? 14! How about Flamini? Nesta's back was rather difficult in those two seasons as well. What that article doesn't tell you, is what sorts of injuries, were they recurring? How about injuries that nobody could control? Rino's eyes? Cassano's heart?

-Another issue that puzzles me is how Allegri can be blamed. To think people are actually saying things like, "He is working the team to hard." Look at this statement? A coach trains the team tactically, former Milan tacticians such as Sacchi and Don Fabio were ruthless, using 9 v 4 and 11 v 5 exercises on a daily basis, and this was in addition to a fitness regimen. A fitness regimen that is NOT provided by the Coach, but by a strength and conditioning staff. So before you throw stones you may want to consider the hierarchy of Coaching. At this level, in fact even at the levels that I have been involved in, the Coach is not responsible for fitness. In my previous Coaching position, I was in charge of strength and conditioning, and I was not the Head Coach. At a Club like Milan, or any other large Club, there is a small army devoted to this discipline, it is up to the players to condition appropriately and respond. Imagine for a moment the players were not fit, Allegri would be blamed all the same, it's a Catch 22, and one that nobody seems willing to understand or consider.

-Players also need to be responsible, do you think it is a coincidence that our older more discipline players suffered fewer injuries? Could it be their work rate and work ethic was simply better? Maybe their off the field discipline with diet and fitness was more sound? These are professional footballers, and as I fan, I expect a level of professionalism in everything that they do, on and off the pitch. If a player is injured the responsibility to rehabilitate is on them, under the supervision of the physio. Does a doctor follow you home and make sure you are taking your medicine and resting, no? Players bear a responsibility.

-Another issue that has come up is that Allegri rushes player's back, this is also a blatantly false statement. Does the Coach have a physio degree? Do you think he walks up to a hobbled player and says, "suit up." This decision is made by the medical staff and conveyed to the Coach, once again the player bears some responsibility. In the case of Silva last season the medical staff deemed him fit, he stated he wanted to play, would the Coach not oblige with his best player. Imagine he had rested Silva, lost the match, the second guessing would happen just the same. Point being, decisions are made by a "dictator" they are made in a calculated fashion, assessing risk and reward.

-Finally, I have to touch on Pato again, for one reason and one reason only. Out of the 137 injuries, he is responsible for 10%. So while everyone is trying to lay blame on Allegri, why not ask what is wrong with this player, or maybe the others who tend to spend more time sitting then playing. Prince was almost just as guilty last season? Could it be they are not taking their fitness and rehab seriously? Are they distracted, are they simply not cut out for the rigors of football? I am not trying to throw stones here, but simply asking questions that are easy for people to ask of a Coach, but oddly not asked of anyone else? Those who blame the pitch for example, any idea why injuries happen away from home or on National team duty?

Simply put, blame Coaches for tactics, player choices and so on, but please don't blame them for things beyond their control. It is simply an irrational act that causes more harm then good.