Premier League returns: Why players face post-World Cup ‘performance and confidence’ issues this weekend | Football News


From the glory of the world stage, the potential to win a match in seven video games and the importance of each match, returning to the bread and butter of the Premier League will hit some players laborious this weekend.

There are the apparent elements. The intense schedule over the previous month for individuals who reached the latter levels, the frustration of failure in Qatar – for everybody besides Argentina’s world beaters.

Even earlier than the match, barely a midweek glided by with no recreation. The continental calendar has been squeezed. And now eight days after the World Cup ultimate, the Premier League returns on Boxing Day.

Players’ union FIFPRO has already hit out on the impression of the relentless season, saying it “poses an ominous threat to player health and [will] hinder performance optimisation”.

Fatigue has taken many of the headlines, however maybe essentially the most important challenge is the one least appreciated.

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Need a recap on the primary half of the season? We’ve obtained you coated…

Mental efficiency marketing consultant Mark Bowden works with players throughout the footballing spectrum, together with a number of at Champions League golf equipment.

He instructed Sky Sports readjusting to the cyclic marathon of the Premier League, from the moment gratification of the World Cup, can have a significant impact on many of the division’s 133 representatives in Qatar. And they will not even realise it.

“You’ll hear buzzwords such as World Cup hangover, World Cup fatigue, but actually there’s a real mental aspect in the brain having a physical impact,” he stated.

“Let’s use Bukayo Saka as an example from England, but it could be anyone. If you think of his last game, the training sessions leading up to it. The reward for winning that game was a World Cup semi-final. That is very powerful, and it’s very imminent.

“When we’ve an goal which may be very highly effective, we’ve an enormous improve within the mind of a chemical referred to as dopamine. That drives extra pure dedication, extra focus in your recreation. It will enhance your performances. And when it goes up, we get a rise in testosterone – which provides us extra confidence, in addition to energy and energy.

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Alexis Mac Allister was among the many standout performers in Qatar – however Brighton boss Roberto De Zerbi says he is not fearful about shedding him.

“Now look at the next game he’s got on Monday. You could say, ‘well Arsenal are going to look to win the Premier League’ – but that’s a long, long way off. It’s not going to happen against West Ham, it’s not going to happen in the next five games.

“The downside Bukayo, and each different participant can have this weekend, is that as skilled as they could be, the draw of successful three factors in an extended season is simply not the identical.

“What will naturally happen in the brain and body is a reduction in dopamine and testosterone, which will equal a player having less drive and their determination, focus and performance levels will go down.

“The bodily energy, depth, confidence of their recreation – they’re going to be considering, ‘I’m attempting, it is simply not working’. They will expertise a discount in performance-enhancing chemical compounds by no fault of their very own and no data of their very own.”

Mid-season tournaments are nothing new to some. The African Cup of Nations took some of the Premier League’s biggest names away for a month last January, though not in the same numbers as the World Cup.

Title winner Sadio Mane’s form actually improved after he returned to Liverpool, though he had been accused of underperforming in the first half of the season.

But beaten finalist Mo Salah, who started 2021/22 like a freight train, could never quite reach those heights again following Egypt’s defeat.

Boden feels Salah’s expertise is extra prone to mirror the typical Premier League players’ response.

Sky Sports’ Karen Carney just lately instructed The Guardian the impression of a World Cup may take the remainder of the season to shake off.

“I always felt it took me up to six months to recover mentally from playing in a major tournament but physically I had to jump pretty much straight into a league campaign,” she wrote.

In Qatar, even the frustration of England’s quarter-final exit solely spared them a further week off.

Normally, they’d get a summer time to recharge, with the gradual pleasure of a brand new season constructing over time. This yr, they might be again on the pitch 15 days after their exit on the Al Bayt.

There is not any means the frustration can have pale. Interestingly, Bowden backs Harry Kane to shrug off his personal guilt after his penalty miss towards France. It will not be such a constructive image all over the place.

“There’s going to be a crash, and that is that buzzword of the hangover,” Bowden stated. “You have a summer tournament and there’ll still be a drop, but there’s that distance to the next campaign, and the excitement about a new season.

“You’ve even obtained the climate. It’s good, heat climate, now they’re coming again to the chilly and moist once they’ve been over within the sunshine, which is not an incentive. There’s so many the explanation why this World Cup goes to end in such an even bigger drop in testosterone and dopamine than if it was held in the summertime.

“The disappointment of a World Cup is how a player perceives it. They could have the weight of the world on their shoulders, or think the team performed pretty well and look at the positives.

“Harry Kane missed his second spot kick, sure, however I feel we have seen how he is carried out persistently throughout the final 10 years. I feel he’ll be as pushed and targeted as ever. He’s had setbacks with issues earlier than and come again higher.

“Whether he’s worked with people on that or just has that understanding of how he ticks, he knows how to respond to things like this.”

So what to do then? Should managers favour players who by no means travelled to Qatar for the following few video games? Not essentially, however an absence of consideration to the psychology of efficiency, even in the perfect home league on this planet, will not assist.

In the identical means Arsene Wenger turned diet into a focus of the sport, so too is a psychological revolution on the horizon at some stage. There have been hints down the years, with Sir Alex Ferguson utilizing a sleep coach and a imaginative and prescient specialist to push his players in the direction of the psychological state he needed.

But virtually a decade since his retirement issues have stalled. Players Bowden has labored with have usually beforehand by no means seen a psychologist, even when one is on the market at their golf equipment.

Most pay out of their very own pocket regardless of the clear benefits their groups achieve from their improved efficiency.

“It baffles me why there isn’t a much bigger emphasis on the psychological side, the mental side of the game,” Bowden stated. “Most players and a lot of managers can still see the mental side of the game as something fluffy, giving players well-being.

“But it is far more in regards to the manufacturing of performance-enhancing or degrading chemical compounds within the mind.

“What could teams be doing? If we’re going to compare like-for-like, in terms of helping that dopamine and natural testosterone to be released, you want each individual player to look for something that is a big driver for something imminent.

“So for one thing massive for the following recreation, the following two video games. Something that may actually excite them to attain issues. We can hack a few of this as nicely – with players I work with, there’s loads of issues we get them doing on a constant foundation.

“One of those is whenever they have their morning shower, for the last 30 seconds turn it down to as cold as it can possibly be. That has far-reaching benefits, but naturally it also produces more dopamine.

“It may not be the like for like, however we’re all the time searching for methods to tweak the mind, the drivers of efficiency. I’d think about that is what these guys can be searching for this weekend.”

Will that additional half a minute assist the World Cup returnees, or will they appear a bathe themselves? We’ll solely discover out, alongside their anxious managers, once they set foot on the pitch subsequent week.


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