About the acerbic title of this article. Since losing to the rags, fans and foes and media have taken their turn at opining about what ails City. Reactions are overwhelmingly prefaced by folk saying that, yes, the team's injuries are numerous but can no longer justify poor performance. The major problem for City, in lieu of citing injuries, are usually stated thus:
1. Pellegrini is tactically inept.
2. Pellegrini is leaving and the players know it and they've given up.
3. The players are lazy (usually Yaya gets this though it's been awhile)
4. The players aren't hungry enough
5. (X) player is horrible and should never be heard from again.
Such arguments, and others like it, are--to coin a phrase--all my balls. They might have merit in a particular game. But City's Premier League campaign has been disappointing--hell, let's even call it depressing--because of the overwhelming number of injuries. Joe Hart and Raheem Sterling going down for thirty days each are just the latest in an unbelievably--perhaps unprecedentedly--long line of City wounded.
- Only two players--count ‘em, two--have played over 80% of the Premier League minutes this season: Fernandinho and Bacary Sagna.
- Only four players have played in over 70% of Premier League minutes: add to the above names Yaya Toure and Nicolas Otamendi.
- Fernandinho and Toure have been overused by necessity. Of the minutes they were fit and available to play, Toure has played 87% while Fernandinho has played 94%. There's a reason Pelle has had to overuse those two and it's because--wait for it...
- Only two players--count ‘em, two--have avoided injury this season: Willy Caballero and Martin Demichelis. That means the only outfield player who hasn't gotten hurt is Demichelis. That's... insane.
- If you count the number of games Aguero, Toure, Silva and Kompany have appeared on the pitch at the same time, you wouldn't need two hands.
Look, tactics count. So does effort. So does player decision making. You know what counts more than all of that combined? The fact (and fact it is) that Nasri, Kompany, Delph, Zabaleta, Fernando, Mangala, Bony, Clichy, Silva, De Bruyne, Aguero and Toure have missed a combined 128 Premier League games. That's an average of nearly eleven (!) league games per player. If you take out Nasri, you still have an average of nine games missed per player.
Danny Pugsley,who I don't mind citing on a daily basis, points out that it's not just the players being lost to injury but the effect on those who have to make up the minutes. I'd add that City's main purpose with signing who they did--Sterling, De Bruyne, Delph and Otamendi--was to anticipate such a problem; add depth in case some guys got hurt. But this season hasn't been one where some guys get hurt. Unless you're Martin or Willy, this season is one where everybody is getting hurt and hurt badly.
It's not Pellegrini.
It's not Bony.
It's not Yaya failing to track back.
It's not (fill in the blank).
It's the injuries.