August 13, 2020

What if Football Stopped for a Year?

this story originally appeared on the athletic the best place to read about football online visit www.

gfi.

com/webmonitor as Arrigo Sacchi so memorably put it football is the most important of the unimportant things in life and following football is essentially a full-time job now the endless blur of Saturday Wednesday Saturday Wednesday thrums through the calendar like a baseline with press conferences transfer news Twitter and fantasy football it's easy to become overwhelmed this is no accident the football industrial complex demands ceaseless expansion the World Cup is getting bigger the European Championships have already been expanded women's football at all levels deserves more attention and soon FIFA will launch its reimagined Club World Cup – now there are still times of the week upon which the sport has yet to plant its flag but none of those days are safe and nothing is sacred is this what fans want well not really but that doesn't seem to matter profit is king and at its worst football looks quite a lot like capitalism mechanized distasteful unavoidable but what if it wasn't what if we could press the pause button on football what if against all odds everyone involved in the game of Greta's stop just for a year not the whole industry but the matches what would happen and might the sport be better for it well the players would certainly benefit as they currently play far too much football as the physical demands of matches have increased players run farther and faster than ever before so too has the number of games in the schedule Real Madrid played 62 competitive games in 2017 18 Flamengo in Brazil played a frankly inhumane 82 times in 2017 it's little wonder that by the time the World Cups roll around so many stars are suffering from injuries and fatigue a year without matches would allow everyone to get fit imagine a refreshed Alexis Sanchez with those consecutive tournaments rinsed out of his muscles raring to go imagine Gareth Bale forgetting where the physio room of the Bernabeu is or Sun hyun-min not having to fly for days to satisfy his club and international commitments never could be psychological and emotional benefits which coupled with fresher bodies could have a tremendously positive effect on the standard of play it could provide an advantage for young developing players too who are often the casualties of a deepening win now culture and whose careful incubation is prohibited by the calendar what if Academy prospects could be gently embedded within sites becoming increasingly involved in training sessions and acquiring first-team responsibilities without quite as much pressure what if they were given time to grow at a responsible pace and footballs current form is inhibiting for coaches to who have to build their sides over short pre-seasons coping with injuries and transfers is one challenge but the congested calendar poses another with all those games and the many days which are inevitably lost between them there's never quite enough time on the training ground what if as a consequence the world is only seeing the half formed ideologies of the game's highest priests how fierce could Jurgen Klopp skelter pressing be what might Pep Guardiola's attacking football look like how many new set-piece routines could Tony Poulos imagine and execute impatience and short-termism in the stands and boardrooms prevents vision from fully flowering only the lucky are given time to build with substance and put their big ideas some way into practice the rest are really just watching the guillotine blade glint in the sunlight in the most extreme circumstances that can directly influence the kind of football that's being played a manager who needs a result is always likely to be more risk-averse his team more defensive the game's imperatives it's a week-to-week grind has made expression a luxury that most coaches have to do without but a year-long sabbatical would partly solve those issues with time to really consider their decisions owners could appoint managers in line with a broader vision for their clubs not just Grabber the most convenient option with no defeats or draws to muddy the waters those managers could go about their business without fear of dismissal and with months and months for them to develop their tactics and teach their players new habits a technical improvement on the field of play would be inevitable and what are the supporters whose dependency seems so absolute well even though their enthusiasm for the game is often assumed to be insatiable the narrowing gap between seasons is big to test that assumption summers are no longer the barren prairies they once were 2019 saw three international tournaments running simultaneously through July and the Champions League qualifiers began before the end of the month so while fans are still looking forward to the domestic season beginning if perhaps isn't with that same fluttering sugar rush ache of anticipation scarcity was football's a lie rewind 20 years and football on television was still a novelty even in homes with satellite TV today you can watch a Spanish game on Monday night gorge on continental football on Tuesday Wednesday and Thursday catch the Friday night leaguer match and the earlier Eredivisie kickoff on Sunday and then fill in the gaps with as many games as life allows long boring a summers also used to replenish footballs novelty dimming the memory of goalless draws and tedious mid-table finishes the 8-month conversation around the sport used to end in May and not begin again until August of course the internet changed them but so too has the unending fixture list every game has an implication for some club somewhere meaning that the debate has become ceaseless as soon as the first pre-season friendly kicks off the opinions complaints and hyperbole begin to and the cumulative effect deadening fatigue which any 12 month hiatus would quickly alleviate and replace with a more traditional yearning that's a fantasy scenario football's gears need to keep grinding to fill the pockets of its stakeholders and sponsors and the club's themselves are businesses first and sporting entities second the games are part of their branding strategy a rolling advert which never ends but if they did if footballs fields were left fallow for a year the richest sport might just grow in his place the script for this video written by Jack Lang originally appeared on the athletic the best place to read about football online whether it's this piece on a footballing sabbatical dedicated local reporting about your team or rich storytelling from around the world you'll find it all in one place get reading now with a 30 day free trial by visiting the athletic car at UK /tphoe football and 50% off an annual subscription if you sign up with us before the end of August thank you for watching [Music] you.

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