Roma and ruptured ACL’s: bad luck or a deeper issue?


The news was confirmed this morning by Roma that Rick Karsdorp will join the long list of individuals who will begin the process of recovering from a ruptured ACL injury, as the Dutchman marked the twelfth name to fall victim to the injury at Trigoria since 2014.

So is it bad luck? Was Trigoria built on an Indian burial ground? Or is there a more deep-rooted problem, such as the training methods of Ed Lippie, whose title is Head Performance Coach, and Darcy Norman, Director of Roma? Could it be a mixture of all three?

There is no doubting that there is a problem at Roma. Having this amount of ACL injuries in such a short amount of time is abnormal. But before drawing any conclusions, it’s important to note that backstory of Lippie’s and Norman’s arrivals to Roma.

Alessandro Florenzi was just one of the many at Roma who fell victim to a ruptured ACL.

Throughout Roma’s 2014-2015 season, the second of Rudi Garcia and their first venture into the Champions League in nearly four years, president James Pallotta was very critical of the conditions of the players and team. In Spring 2015, Pallotta decided to hire an entirely new training staff, which he would hand-pick. The names Pallotta tabbed to lead the Giallorossi’s newly revamped training staff were Ed Lippie, a name he was familiar with, and Darcy Norman, who had a footballing background and came highly recommended after his tenure at EXOS, a training center who utilises the latest technology to increase athletic performance.

Norman, who was employed by Bayern Munich and the German national team before joining the Giallorossi, has a background in physiotherapy and strength and conditioning. Throughout the training and rehabilitation path, Norman focuses on a variety of areas, but one central focus is gym work.

Former Italian sprinter Pierfrancesco Pavoni, who is now a professional in the world of physical rehabilitation, appeared on Fatti di Pallone as he observed the Giallorossi’s training session on 11 October, three days before Roma’s 1-0 loss to Napoli. Pavoni, who is very respected in the field, observed some of the exercises Norman had the players undergoing in the gym. Pavoni was very critical of the form some of the players were using in the gym as well as the individual exercises that Norman had the players performing. Pavoni would later comment, “To devise and perform exercises that go against the laws of a footballer is sportingly criminal.”

It’s easy to blame this solely on Norman and Lippie, however, Karsdorp’s case appears to be unique considering he arrived at Roma already having a knee injury. One thing Pallotta and the club will have to answer, though, is why neither Karsdorp nor Di Francesco mentioned the injury after yesterday’s match. The Dutchman appeared in the Mixed Zone and showed no signs of discomfort. The club will also have to answer as to why Karsdorp was on the pitch for 80 minutes in only his first match back.

Regardless, this seems to be the final straw for many fans so Pallotta will certainly have to address this matter, because having this number of ACL injuries in this short amount of time is not only abnormal…it’s untenable, and someone will have to answer for it.

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