This season looks no different and United are still competing in three competitions, with Fernandes’ World Cup qualifying commitments for Portugal, a conservative estimate the 27-year-old could play in 60 matches.
But this is far from an issue that is specific to Fernandes and United.
The gruesome schedule of the football calendar and its physical and mental impact on players has been the subject of much discussion for many years.
It is an issue that has only been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, as leagues around the world struggle to complete shortened seasons before resuming the next campaign almost immediately.
Add to that the current international schedule – which is seeing associations crammed into more matches than ever because of the suspension of fixtures due to the pandemic – and players at the top end of the game are now experiencing the worst calendar rush of their careers .
‘An obscene amount of play’
It is not only playing an extraordinary number of minutes every week that is impressing the star footballers. It is also long-distance international flights through multiple time zones, a particular problem for those traveling from Europe to South America and Asia for international duty.
By 2024, football will need a new calendar as the current format is coming to an end. However, instead of reducing the number of games to prevent players from getting burned, the current proposals would allow football players to play potentially more Matches at club and international level.
This is due to the expanded Champions League format touted by European football’s governing body, UEFA, which would result in an additional 100 matches per season, and the plan to host a World Cup every two years by FIFA, world football’s governing body. . instead of four.
Darren Burgess, a performance coach who previously worked at Liverpool and Arsenal, recalls his time with the Gunners while trying to manage the players’ workloads.
“Definitely in my role, most recently at Arsenal, where we had the Europa League semi-finals and then the Europa League finals in successive years, including the Carling Cup final,” Burgess said.
While UEFA and the European Club Association (ECA) have criticized FIFA for its plans, UEFA itself has been criticized by leading authorities in Europe’s biggest leagues over its proposals.
FIFPro says football’s governing bodies need to look at the bigger picture when it comes to player burnout.
“What I think is quite interesting … is that our arguments are always brought to the table by other stakeholders when someone else proposes,” said FIFPro Secretary General Jonas Baer Hoffmann.
“So when do you need more Champions League games, then all of a sudden ‘Okay, the players are playing too much,’ say the league and say FIFA. If you want another World Cup, ‘Oh, the players are playing too. A lot,’ says UEFA.
“Now, I think that at some point, if you hold them accountable for this argument, you’re going to have to force them to hold it against you as well.”
Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who has been one of the leading voices for FIFA for the biennial World Cup, has previously insisted that they are “very conscious” not to increase the number of matches for players.
“You have 20% national team football and 80% club football and we want to keep that balance, but we want to reorganize it in a more efficient way.
“This means realigning and reducing qualifiers in national team football, creating longer periods for players to stay with their clubs, and establishing a guaranteed rest period for players each year.”
Baer-Hoffmann was speaking at a roundtable organized by FIFPro, in which the union proposed a new plan that would see players taking planned, mandatory breaks during the season to protect their physical and mental health.
The proposal comes on the back of a FIFPro report in which the union says football players are currently playing an alarming number of minutes in what is called the “critical zone” – playing at least 45 minutes in matches that have less than five days of rest. Is. Them.
FIFPro says that playing more minutes in this critical zone greatly increases the chances of injury to the player and also shortens his career.
Depending on the regularity of these enforced breaks – whether football players sit out after three consecutive games in critical area or five – players can miss between two and eight games per season in club and international duty.
While this may sound radical to many football fans, similar concepts often apply to other sports.
In the NBA, for example, where players regularly play back-to-back nights and every other night during an 82-game season, franchise stars usually have a set rest period throughout their season, usually called Known as load management.
The FIFPro report is based on data from nearly 40,000 attendances between June 2018 and August 2021 by a sample of 265 male players from 44 leagues and says these mandatory mid-season breaks will benefit players and teams in the long term.
For players who combined club and international duty, the report found that 67% of their minutes last season were played in the critical zone, up from 61% in the previous two seasons.
In Fernandes’ case, the midfielder never dropped below 67% between November 2020 and April 2021 and was regularly at or close to 100%.
“What we see with these high workload numbers across multiple indicators is back-to-back [matches] Or travel, that it is destabilizing not only for the player, but also for the sport and competitions,” said Alexander Bielefeld, FIFPro head of global policy.
“So the question really is how do you regulate it smartly. The report does not propose a solution to regulation, but to assume that only smart management and smart coaching are the trick.”
Bielefeld says the pressure is “too much” on everyone currently involved in football to be able to leave star players for a few matches to be able to have consistently good results, but says talks can take place before the new calendar. Getting started is important.
How would a manager or head coach react to whether their star player needs to sit out the next match? How would a fan who has gone to Paris to see Lionel Messi or Manchester to see Cristiano Ronaldo react after spending hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars to see their favorite player?
Burgess believes that actual forward planning before the season even begins can largely negate these issues.
“Part of my role with Mr. [Arsene] Wenger and Mr. [Unai] Emery, the coach for two seasons, was supposed to talk to him on the same issue, about the plan and about these players,” he said. “Some players can play, some players can’t.
“So if these rules are in place at the start of the season, it allows the high performance coach, doctor, coach and fan to understand that this is being done to promote performance and protect players so that you can Maximize player performance for the most important games.
“So as long as these guidelines are in place, it allows you to plan.”
Credit : www.cnn.com