Judging the state of the artists
The off-season break is flying by. Players will start arriving back from their holidays over the next few weeks as squads start to come together for the pre-season period.
Some squads will have had over ten weeks off and some only four to five weeks due to play-off finals. Teams with long lay-offs, such as mid-table Championship sides, will have brought their players in for a week or so over the summer in order to minimise their deconditioning. Much to the displeasure of the players, I’m sure!
Those who get the shortest off-season are those involved in Euro 2012. Many of the England boys will get only three weeks off before meeting up with their respective clubs, maybe just in time to go on tour or to play a couple of friendlies before the season kicks off.
The Spanish and Italian players who contested the final last night may have less than that! The condition of them is usually poorer than their fellow players as, coming off the back of a Premier League season then straight into a tournament, they need a rest. Many take that literally and do very little. The other players would have had two to three weeks of intensive training so have already improved their fitness levels.
If any players have carried an injury through the tournament, the club medical staff rarely hear about it from them as the players do not want to be brought in early for treatment or rehabilitation. You have to trust the national team medical staff that they look after your players but, as I discussed in the last article, they have their own pressures to get the players to play and perform with no long- or mid-term concerns.
I know the top teams in the Premier League have had a hard time keeping tabs on the players this summer and when they will return. Some players have been at the Euros, some on international duty elsewhere, some preparing for the Olympic Games and some doing absolutely nothing at all. This makes preparing the pre-season period extremely difficult as not only are players arriving at different times but they arrive in varying degrees of shape.
It’s also worth mentioning those players who have either finished the season with an injury or have picked one up during the tournament. They would have been in at intervals over the off-season, with the club medical staff ensuring the fine balance between having some time off and recovering from their injury.
All players need to complete as much of pre-season as possible. It is well known that if a player misses this period, he is likely to struggle with fitness all season. Do not be surprised if the Spanish and Italian players – and those from Germany and Portugal, the beaten semi-finalists, as well – have a less than fruitful 2012-13 campaign.