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By Walter Broeckx
When looking on the internet I stumbled upon an interesting research from the Dutch exercise physiologist (never heard of that job before but it does seems to exist) Raymond Verheijen. This person has been working under different coaches like Guus Hiddink, Dick Advocaat when they were the manager of the national team of South Korea.
He worked as an assistant for the Dutch national team, Russia, South Korea and Wales. He was the assistant of Gary Speed. He attended 3 world cups and 3 European championships. He also has worked for a few clubs such as Barcelona, Zenit St. Petersburg, Chelsea and Manchester City.
So one could say he has been around the world and has worked for some big countries and clubs. But I didn’t start writing this to talk about his personal life or ambition but because of a study he has made about rest between football games.
We all seem to know that playing too many games in a short period is not good for a team. It is bad for getting more injuries and can be a reason to drop points. It is something that we accept. I could say something like: it evens out at the end of the season (to coin a phrase).
In his study Verheijen examined 27.000 games from different leagues. The Dutch, English, German, Italian, French, Spanish and Portuguese leagues combined with the Champions League and the Europa League.
The results of this study has shown that the chance of a teaming winning a game when they had only 2 resting days between a game goes down dramatically. According to his numbers the chance of winning a game goes down by an amazing 40% if a team can only rest 2 days and has to play another team that had more resting days. And if the team has to play away from home the chance of losing goes up another 26%.
Teams that had only two resting days have a chance of 75% of conceding goals in the last half our of that second game. And the chance of them scoring in the last half hour goes down with by 70%.
Raymond Verheijen insists that Fifa and Uefa install a rule that would guarantee a minimum of 3 days rest for each team in each competition. In fact if I remember it right the FA and the PL and the PGMOL have that rule for FIFA refs. Fifa refs who do a game on Wednesday get only a game on Sunday. So what is applied to the refs should also be applied for the footballers.
Arsenal had to deal with such a situation four times in the last 2 seasons. Once in October when we won the first and second game (Stoke and Bolton both at home). The other time was on 31/01 and 02/01 when we first played QPR at home and won. The second game was at Fulham and we lost to them. With two goals against us in the final minutes. Away from home.
Last season we had a similar schedule. We had to play Monday – Wednesday. On Monday we won against Chelsea but on Wednesday we lost 2 points at Wigan. And is it a coincidence that both those second games where we dropped points were under ref Probert?
So Arsenal had to deal with this situation a few times in the last two seasons. When Wenger complained about it they called him a moaner. But apparently this study agrees with what Wenger said that it was unacceptable to put up such a scheme.
I also have taken a look at United and in their last two season they only had to deal with such a situation once. And guess what? They won at home on December 26 against Sunderland and then went on December 28 to Birmingham and they only could draw. And guess what? Birmingham equalised in the last seconds of the game. I seem to remember Ferguson being unhappy with it.
And what happened after that? Wenger complained and the next season whoever makes up the calendar just did the same thing and Arsenal had to once again play two times games with only 1 or 2 days in between. Ferguson complained and well … United didn’t have to play again in the league with only 2 days in between.
Oh well, that just will be another coincidence I guess.
So taking care that each team can play on the same level without getting more handicaps than other teams is vital. If you want the league to be played in a fair and open way.
So let us hope that Fifa and Uefa put up this rule of having at least 3 days between games. Such a rule would make sure that teams are treated equally. Surely Fifa and Uefa should be interested in such a thing.
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