Injuries have struck Manchester United particularly hard over the last week as Darren Fletcher and Nemanja Vidic were lost for the season. The absences of the experienced cast doubt on United’s ability to successfully defend its English Premier League title.
Wednesday’s loss to FC Basel in the UEFA Champions League dealt a double blow to United. It was dumped out of Europe’s premier club competition and into the UEFA Europa League. It also lost the services of its captain and defensive anchor Vidic, who suffered season-ending cruciate injury.
Fletcher took leave from professional soccer Tuesday after it was revealed he suffers from ulcerative colitis (a chronic inflammatory bowel condition). The debilitating ailment likely rules the Scottish midfielder out for the rest of the season and there is no guarantee he will be able to resume his career.
United currently trails Manchester City by two points after 15 league games, but faces its final 23 without two players who have 286 league appearances between them over the last five and 1/2 seasons.
Sir Alex Ferguson has pieced together youth-heavy defense for much of the campaign, and Vidic’s absence will surely see that trend continue.
United’s injury-hit midfield has seen star striker Wayne Rooney line up in its center in recent weeks. Ferguson was expecting to rely on Fletcher before the news of his leave broke. It might force him to move for a player in the January transfer market.
The action-packed holiday schedule will test the United squad to its limits. It will also tell us something about its resilience and expectations for the back end of the season.
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