There are not enough pages in Blowing Bubbles to entirely analyse the science of tiredness in football. There are also not enough pages to detail the arguments for and against players claiming to be fatigued. The most recent and high profile case of a footballer being ‘too tired’ to play was, of course, Raheem Sterling for England. Roy Hodgson admitted to have rested Sterling for an important Euro 2016 qualifier due to his sleepiness
The countless arguments from fans are far from sympathetic: ‘You’d think for the money he’s on, he could run around for an hour’, ‘I could do better than that’, ‘I’m tired and I don’t get a day off ’.
These points are easily Player fatigue Can you really be too tired to represent the national team? After Raheem Sterling’s rest, we look at the science behind the issue LUCY WOOLFORD @lucy_whufc countered by the simple argument that we’re all human, and very few of us carry out the tireless training regimes of a Premier League footballer. Despite our opinions, we will more than likely never know how they really feel.
Granted, Sterling didn’t help his cause by being out until 3am the following night. Whether it was naïve or stupid, it wasn’t a well thought out move. But again, that’s not to say that the rest of us may have done the same. Want to have a look at the science bit? Ok, let’s tackle this!
Although a football match doesn’t consist of 90 minutes of sprinting and running, the body will find such maneuvers more difficult if fatigued. A match generally takes all energy reserves out of a players’ tank. Body temperature also significantly increases. Professor Peter Krustrup has done a vast amount of research into how much a football game can take out of a player, who by all accounts is an athlete. His research has shown that fatigue kicks in after intense periods of play, the initial period of the second half and the end of a game
That research is carried out on fit and well players, so to be going into a game with tiredness hanging over you is sure to make things worse. Add that to the pressure that fans pile on for the all-round performance, it makes playing through physical or mental fatigue a daunting prospect. If we take the specific example of Sterling, he is a player with great pace, and has the potential to be a great player. His pace certainly will take more out of his game than those players who take it a little easier with their surges.
In studies on both high and moderate class players, in the five minutes following a spell of high intensity running, players were seen to be giving 12 per cent less in Expert: Exeter University’s Professor Peter Krustrup has researched the topic terms of performance, whilst their bodies and minds recovered from a sprint. Fatigue acquired through the course of a game generally sees players’ sprinting pace slowing by 8 per cent, with attackers covering more ground than midfield and defending positions.
Mental fatigue also contributes to poor performance. If players have less time to rest between games, their physical and mental abilities are limited in such acts as running at pace, changing direction and tackling. There is also a link between fatigue and injury. The responsibilities fall on many shoulders. Roy Hodgson attempted to blame Brendan Rodgers for pushing his players too hard in training. Arguments against this theory stood up for Sterling and claimed that his age plays a part, as does his ability.
Let’s take this away from the Sterling situation for a minute and put our management heads on, because I think we’re pretty good at that! If one of Sam Allardyce’s men comes to him and says he’s too tired to play, the first question I’d ask if I were him is: “Why?” As obvious as it is, it’s the most important. Do players feel overworked? Have they been burning the candle at both ends? Are the breaks between games too short? Whatever the response, the solution needs to be forthcoming
I’d like to think I’d be pleased that a player has taken responsibility for their own actions and doesn’t want to let the team down by playing a poor game. That said, it would have to be clear that the player was struggling and wasn’t attempting to pull the wool over my eyes. I’d be a tough manager! Some folk are quick to say that it “didn’t happen in their day”, but the game has changed. The influx of foreign influence has changed the pace, skill and demand of most Premier League games, and tactics along with training regimes are following suit.
It’s a growing concern in football, and calls for a winter break are looking to tackle this issue, particularly with the packed Christmas-time schedules. Injuries are an increasing problem for clubs, and now the likes of Manchester United are even feeling the pressure that excessive play is putting on players, with Luis Van Gaal considering an inquest into training ground injuries.
As fans, it’s obvious that we’re not particularly impressed with a player who claims to be fatigued. As previously mentioned, we love to throw the insults at them for the money they earn, but sometimes, money can’t buy a good night’s sleep and a speedy recovery.