Mason Mount will return to England’s starting XI for tonight’s World Cup qualifier at home to Hungary. It was fitting, then, that a large portion of yesterday afternoon’s pre-match press conference focused on the increasingly packed calendar and player fatigue.
Gareth Southgate said that he has provided Arsene Wenger, the architect of FIFA’s proposal to turn the World Cup into a biennial rather than quadrennial event, with his impressions of a draft and is in favour of more meaningful international games off the back of watching a highly-entertaining conclusion to the Nations League.
At what cost, though? With clubs unlikely to forego any opportunity to maximise revenue, the fear – backed up by the players’ union FIFPRO in a report published last week – is that burnout will become more common.
Mount was asked if he was in favour of a tournament every summer and replied in the affirmative. “I’d love that,” he said. Presumably it was answered from a place of simple love for the game, that boy on the playground approach of just wanting to kick a ball non-stop. But Mount, at 22 years old, is already beginning to learn about the need for recovery
He cannot remember the exact number of days off he had between the conclusion of the European Championship on July 11 and his first day back at pre-season training for Chelsea but it was significantly less than the 28 days recommended by FIFPRO and he has not been at his sharpest since.
Mount believes that players should be given more of a say in deciding how the calendar looks but at the same said there is a desire to play in as many high-quality fixtures as possible – the inference being there should be fewer one-sided excursions like the weekend trip to Andorra or friendlies.
“The players’ input would be positive I think,” he added. “Us as players want to play in as many top tournaments and games. As Gareth said, we want to be involved in these big games. To get our opinion would be a positive one and help shape the future.”
There have already been two occasions in Thomas Tuchel’s time in charge at Stamford Bridge in which the head coach has spoken about one of his most important players being tired and in need of refreshment. Mount will be making his 141st appearance for club and country since the beginning of the 2019-20 season this evening.
He has missed two games due to a rare and minor injury, with his absence being keenly felt in a Chelsea side lacking its usual fluency, although when in action, like several other England players, has not looked at his best in the first two months of the club campaign.
If there were to be international tournaments every year, one suggestion is that it would lead to there being one extended autumn international break. That would not work in Southgate’s view as international managers would be denied opportunities to work with their squad and if a player was injured at that particular time he would potentially go a full 12 months without winning a cap.
“I’ve said before that there can be tweaks to the calendar that would help everybody,” he said. “If there are slightly fewer windows but you get the players together for a longer period of time that might help the clubs and international teams.
“But if there is only one break per year I don’t really understand that as a concept from FIFA when international football is so important. If you’re a player and you miss that one month or however long then you don’t have an international career at all that year, that doesn’t make sense to me.
“I have only seen the draft. I gave some opinions to Arsene when he showed me his ideas. I don’t know how far things have progressed. There seems to be a lot of things being discussed that weren’t in the original proposal I was shown. It is hard to keep track on it. There were some good things. We all want games to be meaningful and high level games.
“I think the Nations League semi and final showed the quality of the games there. They are exactly the type of games we want to be involved in. They help your team and players to improve. All of that calendar needs joining up. We can’t keep adding, it needs to be joined up as it was in the past.”
Source by Football London