Seeing the burnout and the injury crisis that clubs are experiencing particularly in England where there is no winter break has jolted me to write this piece. The UEFA club competition have been the premier club competition in the world for a good 60 odd years but never in its history has it been such a albatross on a manager’s neck as these times.
True, the world is experiencing a unprecedented pandemic which requires tweaking the way the normal footballing calendar is scheduled. But one has to take into cognizance the fact that football is a physical contact sport which is played for 90 minutes. This means in those 90 minutes the human body is either running or stopping to think where the ball will be next.Now studies have shown that fatigue is not only caused by physical activity. Fatigue can also be caused by thinking, in the case of the footballer thinking about if I am going to be in the starting 11 in the next game or not. Thinking about the importance of scoring to keep my place in the side causes fatigue. Thinking about keeping a clean sheet for the next 90 minutes causes fatigue among goalkeepers.So imagine the current scenario whereby we are having matches every 3 days every week since September and you can see why most leagues in Europe are being led by sides who are not involved in Europe or are struggling there. For example the Spanish league, Premiership. Whilst the Bundesliga and French League have leaders who are top by three points or less.
I believe it is in the best interests of the clubs and UEFA to play both the Champions League and Europa League as individual tournaments played over a month to a month and a half preferably in January after christmas. A neutral country is chosen along the same lines as the FIFA World Cup. The 32 teams will be in groups but each one playing each other once, in the Champions league that is. In the case of the Europa League there should be a round of qualifiers played by 64 teams to make the 32. The knockout rounds will also be 1 legged affairs. This adds to the quality of football as no team will have second chances to make the next round. I hear you saying what will happen to the domestic cup competitions during this time. The clubs can still play for the cups but in alternating weekends after the UEFA competitions are finished. This certainly beats having to play midweek after playing the weekend before. After the January tournaments, the midweek fixtures will be reserved only for the Internationals(qualifiers,friendlies, Nations League). This may be a fantasy wish but on contemplation this seems the best way to get the best squads playing for the big trophies.