At any top Premier League club, times of rest come at a premium and are usually a sign of poor performance in cup competitions or a bad run of personal form, a no-win situation for the modern player.
Of course, this is not just a top-level issue but one that runs right throughout the football pyramid. Its rare EFL clubs get a full week between matches while in lower semi-professional divisions – teams play in every competition going to try and bring in cash flow to merely survive.
The FA Cup doesnt begin at the third round, but at the Extra Preliminary Qualifying stage, which took place on August 5th. So the risk of burnout is an issue that blankets the whole of the game.
United played eight – yes, eight – pre-season friendlies. United are a global franchise and of course the club wants to take advantage of that – but at what cost?
“There&aposs been a lot of travelling in and out and changing schedules, changing time zones, changing football pitches,” said Christian Eriksen in July on the back of the US tour. “It has been a lot.
Many stars involved in Junes internationals did not feature until the tour of the States, but Mason Mount was one senior player who was there from the first friendly against Leeds. He is now currently out injured.
He is not the only one either. Luke Shaw, Tom Heaton, Kobbie Mainoo, Amad and Raphael Varane are all currently sidelined having played the majority of friendlies, while Tyrell Malacia is out having not featured in pre-season at all following his spell with the Netherlands.
Lisandro Martinez was at risk of joining them on Sunday when he was taken off against Arsenal, albeit that was down to a challenge that he instigated. He seems fine but it brings into question the game load on these players and whether that has affected their hardiness.
Out of the worldwide-supported clubs, Real Madrid played four pre-season games, Barcelona and Liverpool scheduled five. So United may be partly to blame but so are UEFA and FIFA, who are showing they have no care for player welfare.
The Champions League is set to be expanded with ten group games from next season while FIFA has announced a bigger Club World Cup.
Kevin De Bruyne slammed the UEFA for organising Nations League matches in the summer of 2022 knowing the intense schedule ahead amid a winter World Cup. Nobody will be thanking FIFA anytime soon either.
Varane, who has suffered a spate of setbacks during his United stay, warned of player fatigue at the start of the season, taking to social media to implore those in power to rethink their plans, including the FA.
“From the managers and players, we have shared our concerns for many years now that there are too many games, the schedule is overcrowded, and its at a dangerous level for players physical and mental well-being, he said.
“Despite our previous feedbacks, they have now recommended for next season: longer games, more intensity, and less emotions to be shown by players. We just want to be in good condition on the pitch to give 100% to our club and fans. Why are our opinions not being heard?”