Guest Post: Keeping the Squad Fit and Free from Injury

Guest poster Du Malone is manager of the Black Sea FM website. Through his persona, Grigor Pasha, he is currently awaiting the sack at Neftochimic 1962 in the Bulgarian second tier.

I’m far from an expert about what goes on on the pitch so to succeed at Football Manager I have to attend closely to what goes on off it.

One area in which I do seem to succeed in is the management of injuries and fitness. My aim is always that, when the match preview arrives, we find that we have fewer players out with injuries than the opposition.

Utilising assets to the full not only means you get the best out of your players: it also means that you need fewer players, enabling you to make the budget go further.

Here is the protocol that I work through in pursuit of that aim.

Acquisition and Divestments

Before bringing in (or deciding to retain) a player, check the scouting report for signs of injury proneness.

Also, check their injury history:

  • Consider how much time they lose to injury
  • Bear in mind that the total amount of time lost includes not only the duration of the injury itself but also rehab
  • Analyse the history for the following red flags: recurring injuries; frequent injuries in training; and unexplained injuries

Attend to players’ attributes and preferred moves:

  • Bravery is admirable, but can lead to more frequent injury (how brave does the roaming playmaker need to be?)
  • Cowardice (sorry, ‘avoiding rough challenges’) isn’t admirable but can help the player avoid injury (pertinent especially for ageing enganches)
  • Poor agility can lead to a greater incidence of injury
  • A low level of natural fitness means that a player can take an age to regain condition/fitness

If offering a contract to an injury doubt, try to shift the balance of remuneration from wage to appearance fee and seek a break clause for serious injury.

Staff and Training

• Use your permitted allocation of fitness coaches, physios, and sport scientists

• Use the comparison graph (accessible when you click the staff page) to compare the capacity of staff with that of other clubs

• Schedule physical training regularly, with a heavy weighting pre-/early season and a light one later in the season, especially when fixtures come thick and fast

• Schedule recovery sessions after matches

Player Management

• Monitor players’ condition. After a match, consider giving them a rest (although it may make sense to initiate this after the post-match recovery session). Where fixtures come once a week I’m likely to give a rest to anyone with a condition of less than, say, 73%

• Use reserve/youth team matches to manage players’ match fitness. Avoid waiting until match condition falls to a low level (say, below 90%). Consider giving players short bursts of playing time (20 or 45 mins) if their match fitness percentage is early-mid 90s.

• Listen to warnings from the medical centre about match fatigue (a risk that might not be fully reflected in condition and match fitness percentages)

• Make your default position to pay for specialist treatment, since it tends to be inexpensive. Avoid being tempted by medical short-cuts (notably injections)