Gareth Southgate feels the Premier League started too early this season on the back of the World Cup in Russia – with England’s run to the semi-finals catching out those in charge.
Questions have been asked as to whether a number of players who went deep into the tournament are now struggling with tiredness having not been afforded a proper rest.
Three Lions captain Harry Kane has been constantly knocking back suggestions that he is fatigued, while England boss Southgate lost five members of his current squad through injury.
The English top-flight returned on August 10, a week before LaLiga and with Serie A starting eight days later and the Bundesliga a full fortnight on.
Speaking ahead of England’s Nations League meeting with Spain in Seville, Southgate said the Premier League is suffering as a result of returning just 26 days after the World Cup final.
“I think it’s psychological freshness, rather than physical. Everyone adapts their training load appropriately,” he replied when asked if he felt players had started the season more slowly than in other years.
“But I think when you see the league, there are probably a lot of teams that haven’t started yet at the level when they are at their maximum.
“There have been lots of injuries across our league, I don’t know about the rest of Europe.
“It is a balance. I don’t really understand why our league started so early, but they did, so it is a really difficult situation for the clubs.
“Look at Tottenham, who had so many players in the semi-finals of the World Cup they had to put their players straight into matches on the back of very little pre-season, so it was an impossible situation for the coaches really.”
Southgate suggested England’s run to the semi-finals may have been an unexpected success – even if the dates of the World Cup had been known well in advance.
“I hadn’t looked into when the season started until when we got back from the tournament,” he said. “Maybe they were expecting us to be back by the end of June. I assumed the rest of the world were going to be there until the middle of July.
“It’s always easy to make a comment like that and not know the complex scenario the decision-makers had to go to, because that happens to me quite a lot. I think everybody knew when the final was going to be and the semi-final and that they would be away for a period of time.”
He also pointed a finger at the scheduling for Premier League games for those clubs who play in the Champions League and Europa League – where games are often moved to the detriment of the English side.
“It’s a bit like our clubs in the Champions League,” he added. “Some of the rest of the leagues in Europe help them and adjust the fixture list and I’m sure our clubs would appreciate that because in the end they’re representing English football and we want them all to do well.”
Know more about Sport360 Application