Seaman, Bould Dixon and Winterburn played 50 out of 50 in 1990/91 – Why is it not possible in 2013?

Idiots on MOTD but the one of best CB pairings in history played 66 and 67 games respectively in 83/84
Idiots on MOTD but the one of best CB pairings in history played 66 and 67 games respectively in 83/84

So what is the subject today chaps? It is something that has bugged me a while and the sort of thing you will all talk about at the ground, down the pub or on social media and none of you will agree on it. Yes today I am looking at why modern day footballers cannot play as many games of footie as their contemporaries have in the past? Why do we continually read that our players need to be rested, or can’t play 2 games in a week? At the same time we hear the pundits on radio and TV who are all ex players questioning the validity of the claim. After all they played more games, so they tell us and on worse pitches but would you bet on sport  in 2013 being played on a Wembley surface like the on below

Webley for 1970 Final - Check the surface!!
Wembley for 1970 Final – Check the surface!!

This piece will throw some surprising facts at you and I hope open many debates. It will not however offer any definitive conclusions, mainly because I do not have the knowledge to do so.  I am more interested in offering some facts, maybe and opinion but then being educated by you the reader with your comment and feedback. I will however start off by saying that having grown up with the English 1st Division in the 1970s and 80s and our club’s domination of Europe my sympathies do lie with the old school who don’t really see the issue with playing 2 90 minutes in a week.

This question posed on a NUFC forum funnily enough was what set me thinking a while back, but just got around to penning a few ideas:-

 ‘So, nearly into October and we have begun resting players already. I can see why to be honest, we have a small squad which is incapable of battling on in 4 fronts. But on the other hand, we are talking about lads who are supposed to be in their physical prime here and some managers complain about having to play 3 times in a week? And granted, that it’s not just Newcastle who do this. 

In Spain, we see the likes of Messi, Xavi and Iniesta playing 60+ games a season and whilst la Liga possibly isn’t as quick as the PL, how come they manage it? My belief is that modern players and wrapped in cotton wool too much and if they are constantly being told they are tired by their boss and the media, then surely they will begin to believe it?

I remember a famous stat about when Villa won in the league in 81/82 (I think) and in that season, they only used 13/14 players in what was a 42 game top division season. How did they manage it? Yes, football may well be quicker now but it’s a lot softer a game now than it was back then in terms of tackling, etc.’

Any thoughts lads and lasses?

I mean surely he has a point. Messi may play against lesser teams most weeks but they all kick him and he played 73 games for club and country in 2011/12. and 61 in 2011/12. I threw the question out there on twitter and was answered by many of you. The most popular response was that the whole game is more athletic, players run much greater distances in top matches and players are asked to train far more often.

Messi - 134 games in 2 seasons being kicked from pillar to post!
Messi – 134 games in 2 seasons being kicked from pillar to post!

I might counter that with the facts that pitches were dreadful back in the 70s, diets were not understood and organised for players. I could also say that the players were out on the piss, 3 or 4 times a week and still played twice.

It may also be that whilst the pitches are better for the football we see and the firmer services whilst superb for a fast passing game do not offer as much give and are therefore tougher on the muscles and joints. This I do believe to be true but of course I am not able to quantify the impact. I am sure also the move from old style studs to newer blades and moulds has had an effect here. On the flip side the game is far less physical in terns on tackling since the tackle from behind was outlawed and the slide tackle effectively so.

Anyway I am certainly no expert but before I continue I will explode one myth, which all 40 plus readers will agree with. The suggestion that modern players run far greater distances in the 90 minutes is just that, a myth. Try telling anyone who recalls the 70/80s era with affection as I do that Jack Wilshere or Mikel Arteta ran twice as far in games as Ray Kennedy, John McGovern, Dennis Mortimer, Liam Brady or Graeme Souness and they would be surprised. Yet this is what we are often told.

The truth is different and according to research compiled and studied by Don Kirkendall, co-author of the book “”Exercise and Sport Science,” the average soccer player runs 10,000 m a game. Research shows that this distance was recorded as 8,800 in the 1970s. The growth is explained by evolution of game play and growing training and intensity of the players. 10,000 m, or about 6 miles, works out to be an average speed of 4 mph. If you wish to read more from Exercise and Sports Science click here.

So just to give you the whole picture I thought I would look back at some of the great teams from previous decades:

 

Liverpool 1976/77  – Games Played in Season 62.

Division 1 Champions. League Cup 2nd Round, FA Cup Runners Up and European Cup Winners

First Team Squad 16 players.

The first great team I truly remember.

Liverpool FC 1976/77
Liverpool FC 1976/77

Games played just for club:

Ray Clemence (GK) – 62

Emlyn Hughes (CB)  – 62

Ray Kennedy (CM) – 61

Phil Neal (FB) – 61

Joey Jones (FB) – 59

Steve Heighway  (W) – 58

Kevin Keegan (CF)  – 57

Players used in League with more than 2 appearances 15.

 

Nottingham Forest 1978/79 – Games  played 63

Division 1 Runners up. FA Cup 5th Round, League Cup winners and European Cup Winners

First Team Squad – 20 Players

2 years after promotion to the top flight this team had won the league and conquered Europe under Clough in successive seasons.

Nottingham Forest European Champions 79
Nottingham Forest European Champions 79

 

Shilton (GK) – 63

John Robertson (W) – 63

Viv Anderson (FB) – 59

Tony Woodcock (CF) – 57

Larry Lloyd (CB) – 55

John McGovern (CM) – 55

Gary Birtles (CF) – 54

Players used in league with more than 2 performances – 17

 

Aston Villa 1980/81 – Games played in season 45

Division 1 Champions, FA Cup and League Cup 3rd round

First team squad 14 players

Same team week in week out and all 4 of midfield played 42 from 42!

Only 14 players used in Aston Villa League title campaign
Only 14 players used in Aston Villa League title campaign

Jimmy Rimmer, Ken Swain, Ken McNaught, Dennis Mortimer, Des Bremner, Gordon Cowans and Tony Morley played all 42 league games; Gary Shaw played 40, Allan Evans 39 and Peter Withe, 36 whilst Gary Williams (22) and Colin Gibson (21) contested the final place in the starting 11. David Geddis and Eammon Deacy made 9 appearances each.

 

Liverpool 1983/84 – Games played in season 67

Divsion 1 Champions, League Cup Winners, FA Cup 2nd Round, European Cup Winners

First team squad 18 players

One of the greatest club sides in history.

 

Liverpool 84/84 One of the greatest sides in history
Liverpool 84/84 One of the greatest sides in history

Bruce Grobbelaar (GK) – 67

Alan Hansen (CB) – 67

Alan Kennedy 9FB) – 67

Sammy Lee (CM) – 67

Mark Lawrenson (CB) – 66

Ian Rush (CF) – 65

Phil Neal (FB)  – 64

Graeme Souness (CM) – 61

Player used in League with more than 2 appearances 16.

 

Blah, blah, blah Dave you may say but the facts are that in the 70s and 80s top, top sides who were conquering all comers both domestically had a core of players playing 60 plus games for their clubs. Please bear in mind also that the majority of these players were internationals and the stats above are just for club appearances.

There was only one substitute on the bench back them, pitches in winter were donkey fields and many players players over 70 games in a season when internationals added in. Last season only six Arsenal players manged over 40 appearances in all competitions and the most appearances was by RVP, supposedly a ‘crock’ who played 48 games and has continued to play virtually very week since at United.

For those of you and I am sure there are many saying are the 70s and 80s truly relevant to us now and what about Arsenal? Surely you are an Arsenal blogger Dave?

Yes of course you are right, the 90s and the new century with better pitches and more substitutes more relevant as it is far more a squad game and yes I am an Arsenal blogger so let’s bring it back to the Gunners:-

 

Arsenal 1990/91  – Games played 50

Division 1 Champions, League Cup 4th round, FA Cup Semis (No Europe)

First team Squad 19

Arsenal 1990/91 Played 50 lost 3
Arsenal 1990/91 Played 50 lost 3

Seaman (GK) – 50

Dixon (FB) – 50

Winterburn (FB) – 50

Bould (CB) – 50

Davis (CM) – 48

Merson (CF Intoxicated) – 49

Smith (CF) – 49

Players used in league with more than 2 appearances 16 and 4 players played in every single game the club played including our present 1st team coach! Merson playing whilst under the influence missed one match as did Alan Smith leading the line and topping the league scoring charts.

 

Bac to bottom, left to right 50 games, 50 games, Banged up in Chelmsford nick, 50 games, 50 games
Back to bottom, left to right 50 games, 50 games, Banged up in Chelmsford nick, 50 games, 50 games

Manchester United 1993/94 – Games played in season 62

Premier League Winners, FA Cup Winners, League Cup Runners Up, European Cup 2nd Round

First team squad – Basically 14

United greatest side and 7 players played 50 or more matches!
United greatest side and 7 players played 50 or more matches!

Dennis Irwin (FB) – 61

Steve Bruce (CB) – 61

Peter Schmeichel (GK) -60

Gary Pallister (CB) – 60

Paul Parker  (FB) – 55

Paul Ince – (CM) – 55

Ryan Giggs (LM) – 50

Eric Cantona (CF) – 49

Player in league with more than 2 appearances – 14.

Arguably the only club side in the Premiership to rival Arsenal 02-04 for quality. If you doubt me ask United fans of that era. United’s first Double and the whole back 5 played together all season.

 

Maybe this is still not present day enough so we moved on to the Wenger years….

 

Arsenal 1997/98 – Games played in the season 53

Premier League Champions. FA Cup Champions. League Cup 5th round and UEFA Cup 1st round

First team squad – 21

 

Wenger 1st Double won by 17 players
Wenger 1st Double won by 17 players

Nigel Winterburn (FB) – 49

Ray Parlour (RM)- 47

Marc Overmars (LM) – 46

Patrick Vieira (CM) – 46

Manu Petit (CM) – 44

Lee Dixon (FB) – 40

Dennis Bergkamp (CF) – 40

Players in league with more than 2 appearances 17.

 

Arsenal 2003/4 –Games played in season 60

Premier League Champions, FA Cup Semis, League Cup Semis, Champions League Quarter

First Team Squad – Basically 20

20 players won the EPL undefeated
20 players won the EPL undefeated

Kolo Toure (CB) – 55

Jens Lehmann (GK) – 54

Robert Pires (RM) – 50

Thierry Henry (CF) – 50

Sol Campbell (CB) – 49

 

As I said at outset I am not sure I have any conclusions myself other than a conviction that players do not need to rest as much as some think and could easily play more games. The average regular in the 70/80s was playing in excess of 50 and in some cases over 60 club games as season. These days everyone calls for squad rotation and the resting of players. I have no doubt this is key when players are young and still growing and we should have learned our lesson with Jack Wilshere. I recall how carefully over 2 season George Graham look after Paul Merson before unleashing him full time in 86/87. However I am not so easily persuaded that top professionals who have fully developed their muscles and bone structure need recuperation and hence rotating.

If all are fit and Wenger is convinced of his best 11 I still feel he should play them week in week out. Certainly between 1997 and 2004 this was his way and it proved successful. Yes of course we had good cover if required and with 3 subs allowed the cover got plenty of game time, but is I asked most of you to name the staring 11 in 98,02 or 04 you would all get 10 the same at least. You only have to l0ok at Manchester City last season and they won the league with the same core. They really only used 1 keeper, 7 defenders, 6 midfielders and 4 strikers. For those that question our depth in midfield and Man City effectively won the Premiership with 6, Silva, Toure, Barry, Milner, Nasri and De Jong. I would guess if most of you were asked would you have Milner, De Jong or Barry in our team you would say no and yet Milner and Barry for the most part were regulars in a triumphant campaign. By the run in barring injury the team was the same week in week out and every City fan could predict the starters and for me this is critical to their success.

Can there be any doubt at all that consistent selection bears fruit? As Tony Adams himself said only recently you don’t mess with partnerships in central defence. Adams/Bould, Adams/Keown, Adams/Campbell, Campbell/Keown, Campbell/Toure etc. Does anyone now if all 3 are fit which is Wenger’s favoured pairing today. All 3 are fit so make your decision and stick with it from now until May in all 3 competitions.

In the centre of midfield we have 3 positions in our formation and so far just in the league we have utilised 9 players for those 3 berths. Man City’s entire squad submission this season only included 7 players who could conceivably play in the centre of their midfield. Toure, Barry, Garcia and Rodwell are the only out an out CMs with Milner, Nasri and Silva usually wider. So barring injury this blogger suggests that Monsieur Wenger picks the same 11 each week barring injuries and the same bench. They are fit enough they can play twice a week and my guess is that those selected will all bloody want to. Do this and my belief is that we can push with some conviction for 3rd place and the FA Cup. I know this is contrary to the popular belief that rest and rotation is the key to success but this child of the 1970s will take some convincing.

It is a broad subject and I have probably gone on too long and I do hope it will engender some debate. I am happy to be educated or challenged on this subject by those who know more and I am certain that is many of my readers.

Like what you read? Agree/disagree? Leave a comment below or follow me or comment on this blog on Twitter – http://twitter.com/goonerdave66

 

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27 comments

  1. Completely agree. I’m 26y/o run at least 6 miles on the weekend, and 3-4 miles a couple times during the week, in addition to regular gym time. My point is I’m not making £80K/wk to do so, so I don’t see why these “professional athletes” couldn’t muster the same output. Great stats, btw.

  2. Hi Dave, As usual a brilliant Blog I must admit… Here are my thoughts on this.. Press and media coverage in games have changed over a period of time. With the advent of many broadcasting networks and media households, there has been a tremendous increase in player scrutiny where each and every move of their’s is monitored through a microscope. There has been constant media attention given to each and every player and that some times might lead to a lot of mental stress. Back in the days, the media coverage probably wasn’t as big as how it is now… So players would just entertain the fans once or twice a week and get back home. This is not the case now. Apart from playing games, they now have to take care of the commercial side of football as well… And then you have the hynea like Agents trying to play with their minds and thereby making things worse for them.. So all in all, mental pressure adds more to Physical stress.. Thus resulting them to perform poorly and probably making them take breaks in between..

    1. This. I wrote a blog post once about how my brother and I argue about who is more tired, the desk jockey, or the laborer. Essentially, I argue that mental stress is equally if not more draining than physical stress. The mind can be very detrimental to its own body, and with twitter, facebook, sky, espn, fox, and every other media outlet in Europe and abroad dissecting every footballers life; the off pitch burden these players carry is immense. By the way Dave, great thought-provoking piece.

      1. True mate, Media can even kill a players’ confidence.. I can’t imagine what Santos is going through when he logs on to twitter… He’s extremely low in confidence right now and he’s put on a lot of weight which he must reduce.. Some times media acts as a distraction as well.. Players could spend a lot of time thinking about the game instead of reading abusive tweets from “fans”… In that way, Theo has done a terrific Job by not being on Twitter.. It helps him to focus more on his games…

  3. Well said that man.
    As you say look at the state of the pitches they played on, I’m surprised there were not a load of broken ankles back then, no nice soft spongy turf to run on or Hi Tech football boots, slippery mud baths or rock hard bobbly pitches in hard boots with studs even if the pitch were half the size it would be harder and take more energy to wade through the mud, harder on ankles running on a half bald rock hard bobbly pitch… I agree today’s players are wrapped in cotton wool do a lot less and get paid a hell of a lot more than all the players you mentioned.

  4. Nice post as usual Dave. I think the game has changed alot tactically and also the environment plays a big part in players health. Training facilities are also not the same as back in the 90s and eating habits too. Same core of players is great but some players can’t handle 50+ games a season, just look what happened to Wilshere

  5. Great blog. Maybe it’s because they are more athletic today and the current build of players are not ideal for playing 50 games per season but at the same time gets the most out of the players when playing. Maybe we have taken this path because of more subs and a larger squad?
    Just a thought 🙂

  6. Hi Dave, I just think that todays footballer is an all encompasing comodity now. The marketing, contracts, agents involved have changed the way a club sees them
    & uses them. We all know that players can play every week, we see it in lower divisions. I believe we cannot compare what happens around players now to say Tony Adams or Paul Merson, now, media attention, tv etc has changed our perception. They are presented to us a ‘celebs’ & role models, not working class hard men who liked a pint after the match. They have to be wrapped up in cotton wool, there is so much money at stake.

  7. For a very longtime, I have seen someone thinking in my own direction. From my point of view, I see no reason why a winning team should be changed all in the name of squad rotation or fatigue. Take a look at the Stoke match, Arsenal almost drop 2points because of d squad rotation phenomenon. When you continue to rotate your team week in week out, there will be lack of cohesion and understanding in the team. Furthermore when there is lack of understanding in the team play, the team begin to lose precious points and this will affect the players psychologically. As we all know, when players are having psychological problem, it will have an effect on the players confidence. Ultimately low ebb of confidence leads to poor result and automatically retrogression of the club. All of the aboves applies when the first team players are fit.
    I totally agree with the writer that a fit first eleven can carry on all through the season, I will always remain a Gunner.

  8. Brilliant post as usual. The only reason I can think of is that owners are trying to protect their pricey investments. Abrahamovic a’int going to get his £50m back.

  9. Pansies the lot of them… i know i tar alot of people with that one brush but it’s true..
    The more the money has increased and the loyalties decrease the less they want to play or seem to want to work..
    Back in the day, when you signed for a club,you figured you were their for life,an adopted supporter and covered every blade of grass accordingly,like any supporter fighting for their team might..
    But now,if a former team-mate is having a birthday bash in Milan,they mysteriously pick up a th yellow or groin injury or shin splint and away they go…
    Right that was away from point..
    i personally think if you get 12 or 13 who will run that extra yard,who tries to play every game (and pesters the manager to insure he plays),and who are good enough then i too would play them every week,until there were obvious signs of fatigue kicking in..You’ll get more consistency, and fight..players get to know every single aspect of eachothers true game..
    And you should then have alot of very hungry substitute’s chomping at the bit, who realise if they rarely get a chance, then by heck they have to take it,so they come in and bust their absolute bollock’s off, to impress..
    Also it would mean that the squad players,could get their education on the training ground, and not out on our right wing during games, therefore opening the door to ridicule, and ultimately loss of confidence, so by the time they actually get onto the pitch then they are fully ready for the role the are needed for..
    and as for the game changing, just take a look at rugby, now there’s a game that has changed as much but in alot less time.. they’re pitches are still donkey fields, but their players are twice the size and twice the speed, yet they play every week,league’s/euro cup’s internationals, and training sessions that would have pro footballers crying in their sun-beds, but yet if they get an opportunity to tour New Zealand with the lions they take it, to play more, and basically have no time off, so i don’t use the game changing as an excuse..
    now i know some will say “oh they fly all over the world doing promotional stuff” etc, and internationals, so must be tiring, but so does Iniesta/Xavi/Messi etc., or even closer to home, i do recall Santi flying in from Costa Rica the night b4 a game and playing brilliantly for us..
    so the pampered culture of the footballer is defo more prominent in England than other countries, well such pampering at such young ages anyway,and this no doubt can lead to more huff’s and stroppiness and mentally created tiredness, even at 30 yrs of age they are like teenagers, storming to their rooms after being asked to set the table..
    Rant complete

  10. Great comments. Knew I would learn from the feedback. Not many read this blog but it is like an actor you do a few trashy films that pay so do the critically acclaimed one no and then. Knew this would bomb but wanted to write it and get it off my chest. Thanks guys Dave

  11. Great post Dave, appreciate the effort which has gone into it, and completely agree professional athletes should be able to play 3 games a week.
    However I wonder what yours, and most of the commenter’s, opinions would be is say Jack Wilshere again got injured through playing week in week out?

    My perception is that the average age of squads has become younger, and it is a well known fact that younger players are less tolerant to repeated appearances, it quote often results in stress fractures; think Jenko, Wilshere, Gibbs etc. This could play a part in the increasing rotation we see

    Finally I write this having played twice this week already, and I am in pain 😛

  12. Nice one again Dave. But If you’d asked me, I’d go out on a limb and told ya that players nowadays are too jelly and over pampered. It’s not totally their fault though. Things have changed massively and (like u said Above) it has been rammed into their subconscious that too many games weigh them down. But if I play the devil’s advocate here I will buy into the theory that too much work lead to Jack’s prolonged injury. Then you’d say, Diaby must be doing a whole lot then?
    I think, I will seat on the fence on this one, coz there are enough evidence to prove one’s point either way.

  13. Couple of quick thoughts on a great blog.
    1. 8,800 vs 10,000 actually seems like quite a lot. And would add up quick. Plus the intensity is what would really burn you.
    2. It’s all relative. If no teams rotate, and only use 1 sub, then you wont be exposed. But if everyone else rotates/rests players, and uses 3 sube, watch out come the end of the season.
    3. Wenger commented in the last week or so that it is slightly more mental tiredness than physical tiredness that he worries about with back to back matches, which makes sense. Walking/jogging for 10k with a few sprints thrown in followed by 3-4 days to recover cant be that terrible.Now, those who say players are all pansies will also dismiss mental fatigue. But mental fatigue IS physical. The mind is the brain, and stresses do wear it don’t so that players are not as sharp ie “jaded.”
    4. But let me repeat my main point. It’s all relative. in an era when every player played every game, there was no advantage/disadvantage to be found.
    So, I think fatigue is a real issue, and therefore smart rotation ie without diluting your core formula too much, is optimal.
    Oh, and Barca dope. You know it, I know it, everyone knows it. Messi could play an 80 game season and top it off by winning the Grand National by giving his horse a piggy back.
    Great discussion, Dave.

  14. I thought it was generally accepted that today’s footballers are trained to a far higher physical level, in fact, almost to breaking point and as a result are far more delicate animals than their predecessors. In the old days there were a lot of broken bones (think of the classic old-school center half with his nose smeared across his face) but probably a lot less muscle/sinew injuries.
    Stress fractures like Wilshere’s are almost always due to over-exertion.
    I appreciate the work you’ve put into this blog. Brilliant.

  15. A very well thought out and executed article as usual. I cannot believe you when you say few people read your blog, it is masterful in its content and presentation.

    I would have to disagree with you regarding the physical intensity of the game between footballers of old and now. I think the fitness levels are alot higher now, the players run faster, have to train alot harder and this causes injuries. Of course, I do wonder if the game was so physical in terms of tackling in the years gone by, are there similar tales to those of Eduardo and Diaby?

    1. Thanks. No 1000s read my blog but just not this one sadly. I sort of knew it was a bit non mainstream as a subject.

  16. Very thought-provoking article, Dave. To add my 2 cents – the game has changed not only in terms of better pitches, better facilities etc but also in terms of the constant media attention and scrutiny. Mental fatigue, as many of the others have pointed out, is a real thing and cannot be ignored as them ‘being pansies.’ So yes they may be wrapped in cotton wool up to an extent and the game is definitely less physical in terms of tackling, but I also think that the fitness levels are higher now, the game faster and the players pushed physically harder in training which cause a lot more stress and muscle injuries than simply broken bones. And the expectations arounf everything and everything of football and footballers as a commodity are very high. I’m far from an expert having seen the earlier years only in retrospect.

  17. Really analytical, well written with loads of homework done. At once, we can get to the conclusion that players/media are over-reacting about the necessity of resting a player.
    But when we see our own example, wasn’t Jackie burnt down playing too much in his first season? Didnt Arteta played 26 games in a row in first half of 2011/12 and was injured? And this season, after 26 consecutive games, injured again?
    I think much depends on the engine and physical strength of the players you’ve got. As for example, Alex Song was playing almost 50 games a season for 3/4 consecutive season with us. The nature and speed of game, pressure for a player to perform because of high transfer price or high wages plays major part as well.
    One quick question Dave, back to those days when players were playing 50-60 game a season, do they had to play stoke city, minimum twice a season? Am not trying to make valid points, just asking because I dont know honestly.

  18. Players have changds physically. You can’t take a great athlete like Usain Bolt and expect him to run a 10k and be competitive. The old players were built into endurance athletes, today’s players are built into sprinters. Plus the old players had lives away from football, today’s players lives are all about football.

  19. A super read Dave.

    I must say , I smelt something fishy when the doping allegations came out a few days back.

    I have no knowledge of sports science, but I agree with all the comments you have made. There is no reason why today’s player can’t last a season. I mean with the medical advances made , you would expect players to last much longer. For me it boils down to mental fatigue. The constant media and public scrutiny probably ? Don’t know the reason, but as some one above said, Santi flew half way round the globe and played very well. I remember Sachin did the same for India flew to Toronto on the morning of the game from commonwealth games in Asia , played and scored 60 odd beautiful runs.

    We now have 3 CBs and if they stay fit, one would really have to present a very strong argument as to why you think we need one more. In attack it makes sense to have options , because you are looking to have variety and some alternatives.

    But athe fact also is we have players who are prone to injuries, squad strength makes logical sense in that regard. The constant question which I ask myself is , will Diaby ever play 40 games for Arsenal. I hope he does. Is this the reason why Wenger keeps saying 2 players per position available and too many not required ? Just a question 🙂

    On a different note, a small anecdote, Kapil Dev used to run 40 laps before his training and was famed for having the best bowling action for a outswinger. Many people considered it unscientific. So when Dennis Lille came to take over the MRF pace academy , everyone was kean to understand what fitness regime Dennis Lille followed. First day Lille came to the place and asked the kids to run 30 laps before beginning to bowl. Today you would be hard pressed to find a fit fast bowler. Different sport similar tale 🙂

  20. Very interesting piece, Dave. One point to bear in mind is that the age of players must be taken into account. Before the age of 20 or 21 (occasionally up to 25) skeletal growth in young males is still ongoing, hence their bodies are more susceptible to injury through excessive exercise. I’ve always thought this was a factor in our injury record post-2006 when the old guard of the Invincibles gave way to a team of kids. Was the training regime tailored to reflect this? Wenger has admitted that he was forced to play Jack Wilshere too much when he was 19, which led to his long-term injury.

      1. Ooops, sorry. Serves me right for reading it in stages in between stuff I’m actually supposed to be doing! But still a very thought-provoking article, thank you.

  21. Players are mentally tired? That pre-supposes that they have brains which has been sadly lacking this past few seasons. They even have agents to fight their corner for a contract as they haven’t the nous to do it for themselves. No one forces them to go on Facebook or Twitter and read the tripe on there that tires their brains out.
    Physically tired? The training starts at 1000 and is all over by 1300. Then it’s back to the X box or a bit of PR. Poor lambs. Most of them are so one footed it is criminal, I would insist for £80,000+/week that they could kick with both feet and head the ball.
    Injuries? They are past masters at making mistakes and feigning injury to get a free kick or a hold up in play. After attention they then run around like spring chickens.
    Sorry about the rant guys and gals but as a pensioner who was brought up in the Charlton, Best and Moore era, I have no sympathy for them. Overpaid and overpampered, unlike me in my working days – overworked and underpaid and still played locally on Saturdays and Sundays.
    By the way I thoroughly enjoy the articles and blogs. Keep up the good work.

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