Mauricio Pochettino has criticised the football authorities for placing too much strain on players.
“The problem is the organisation of the competition. You cannot play the Euros and start [the Premier League] on 13 August. How can you give rest to the players after the whole season?”
It’s a fair point. Hugo Lloris pulled his hamstring at Everton on Saturday and is now out for four weeks. There’s an element of fortune that ten days of his absence is taken with the international break but that won’t help us with the matches against Crystal Palace or Liverpool.
It may even encompass the trip to Stoke; nearly a tenth of the season missed because the Premier League can’t organise themselves properly.
“The problem is that in football, the managers and players need to make the decisions about the competitions but sometimes the decisions are always from the people who never play football.”
It’s an age-old problem. Sepp Blatter was keen to waffle on about this very issue as he sought to increase the prominence of international football but never did anything constructive about it.
The Premier League is the same. Reducing the division to 18 clubs and doing away with FA Cup replays is what we need – the League Cup is also a questionable trophy now that the winners don’t get a Europa League spot – but expecting the clubs to do anything about it is like asking turkeys to vote for Christmas.
A winter break is being given serious consideration, which would help. However, there is no sign that it is part of a cohesive plan to spare the players.
And for this season, the Premier League has made a massive error in judgement with the first weekend already played. As Poch said, how can you rest players, give them a proper pre-season and expect them to be ready for mid-August?
It’s nonsensical with next summer devoid of international tournaments; another week or two could have made all the difference to some players. Clubs like the matchday revenues the mid-August starts bring and opening in sunshine always gives the season a feelgood factor.
We weren’t the only to club to suffer either. Several players who featured at Euro 2016 went down with injury on Saturday. Poch though is on safer ground than most with the Tottenham board but it doesn’t stop him bemoaning his fate:
“We need to be like we are in the circus – juggling. All the pressure is on the managers, always. If you put a player in who you don’t give holidays and he gets injured, it’s your fault.
“If you give rest and he doesn’t play in the commercial games, you are guilty. Always it is the manager’s fault, always, always.”
That’s the lot of a Premier League manager. Until they become more powerful than money, nothing will change.