Premature World Cup Nail-biting

It may seem awhile off, a whole year in fact but the preparations and excitement starts now for next year’s World Cup in Brazil. For managers and respective football associations the preparations should have begun a long time ago of course, but although players have got a whole season for their club to worry about, they need to keep an eye on June/July 2014. It’s the biggest stage, every players dream, the most proud moment of anyone’s life if they are fortunate to play in a FIFA World Cup. If you were to ask a player whether they would prefer to start or be fit for every game this season or prefer to be at the World Cup, they would choose the historic tournament every time. That is one of the biggest questions for players at the moment, transfer window is open and they need to make sure they are playing for a team that will give them game time as well as a team that they will perform well in so they are selected for their countries squad. That is something they have reasonable control over but they don’t have much control over injury.

Preventing injury sounds ridiculous as players should give their all for their club every week and it shouldn’t put a player in two minds whether to jump into a tackle or to bust a gut to get to a ball. How many times has your heart been in your mouth when your national team’s star player doesn’t get up straight away a few months before a tournament? Its nerve-racking stuff and for players in the Premiership it seems they are more at risk. At the last World Cup the likes of Drogba, Ballack, Torres, Ferdinand, Essien, Mikel, and Bosingwa were all ruled out due to injury for their countries and all played that season in the EPL. That is also excluding players who began the tournament injured or weren’t fully fit. We know that the English football season is hectic; there is no winter break like they have in the rest of Europe. In fact the fixture schedule is more intense over the winter period with 3 games a week across the Christmas and New Year period. The premier league have made it very clear that they no plans to introduce a winter break as the schedule is too tight and fair enough, most top leagues have 18 teams whereas the EPL has 20. Add European football the FA cup and a League cup and you have a monster amount of games. The key may well be pre-season, if they start that well and get their fitness off to a stable start without stretching themselves it may do them the world of good come the end of the season.

TV doesn’t help much either as games are moved to generate more viewers resulting in fewer days before games with big teams regularly playing weekend and mid-week. This takes a massive toll on the players and who must feel fatigued as early as the New Year let alone having a major tournament to play once the season is finished. Basically club football in England doesn’t give a shit about national teams and only care about the dough and you can’t help but wonder that this may be the reason England do so badly at tournaments and always have 1 or 2 big players injured for World Cups. It’s a guaranteed occurrence in fact I may put a bet on which players get injured.

As said before another factor that will be moistening the brow of players at the moment is playing time and form. Most players will base their transfer decisions on whether they will be first choice for their current or future club. Does Rooney risk staying at United with doubts over whether he’ll start regularly? Does Lukaku go out on loan to secure his starting position in the Belgian line-up?  National managers will always prefer the players that play regularly for their clubs as they are the players they regularly see and who are fit and on form. It’s a good thing for smaller clubs as top players fell insecure about their place in a top team and drop to mid-table clubs for first team action in the form of loans. Don’t be surprised to see some big names at small clubs come September 1st.

The World Cup is a year away and even though they are not talking about it, players are definitely thinking about it. If they get their pre-season right then they have a better chance of staying fit and impressing their club managers enough to get them some quality first-team football. However some may have to be shipped out on loan to give them a chance at playing in world’s biggest sporting event. Not all will make it and some may get lucky by replacing someone else who was unlucky to get injured for the tournament but either way I’ll be biting nails with every England player that goes down this season. Maybe I’m over-reacting too early; they got to get there first.