Name One EPL Player That Had a Good World Cup

I have been on record (prior to the World Cup, so not an excuse) as saying that one of the reasons England struggle in World Cups and Euro Championships is that the players are physically worn out from a season in the English Premier League.  Note, I said “one” of the reasons.  There are other factors that cause England’s below par performances in major championships.  But I want to focus on the effects the EPL season has on players.

first, we have to realize that the EPL is simply more physical, in terms of the amount of running, speed of play and the physical challenges, than other leagues.

The cold and wet weather should also be added to the equation.  Let me explain.  Spain and Italy for example have a warmer climate.  In England, the players often practice and play in temperatures slightly above freezing and it wet and windy conditions.  This means they have to run around like crazy just to keep warm.  Practicing in Spain or Italy when it is a nice 60F, is a different matter.  It’s much more comfortable and less taxing on the players.

So the climate is a factor.  It means more running around in practices and games than in a warmer climate.

Then compare the pace of an EPL game to that of one from Spain or Italy.  It’s as different as night and day.  The EPL games are incredibly fast and furious from the first minute to the last.  An Italian or Spanish game seem to be made up a slow build up followed by lightning fast play for a few seconds when near or in the penalty area.

The bottom line is I don’t think anyone can argue that the EPL takes a more physical toll on players than other leagues.

I also want to add to the equation, that there is a cumulative effect.  A 22 year old player will be less effected by this than a 28 or 30 year old.  Gerrard is a good example of this.  He has been a shadow of his former self this season and I would argue that the cumulative effect of the EPL has taken its toll and we are likely to not see him at his best again.  Rooney could be right on the beginning stages of this.

Yes other countries have players in the EPL, but practically all of England’s squad were EPL players.

But to attempt to further prove my theory, let me ask this question.

Name me one player who plays in the EPL, who had a good World Cup?  Torres, Rooney, Fabregas, Gerrard, are all superstar players, but didn’t perform.  Yes previous injuries were a factor in some of them, but that goes to my point about the EPL being physical as injuries are part of this.

The best example I can think of is Dirk Kyut and the best that can be said for him was that he had a “decent” World Cup.

If you can think of anyone else, post it in the Comments section.

So how can players like Forlan, who struggled at Man U, all of a sudden become a stud in the World Cup?  I don’t know, but I do think it wouldn’t have happened if he was still playing in the EPL.

5 Comments

  1. JPolito says:

    I think a “decent” WC is good WC. I think Kuyt had a solid WC, a “good” WC. Fabregas didn’t have a chance due to fitness (injury), but he played remarkably well in the final.

    Landon Donovan had a good WC and he played in the EPL plus the MLS. Dempsey had arguably a great WC.

    Boateng?

    Park had a good WC for S. Korea. Tevez and Robinho were good.

    I guess it depends on how you define “good” and to be good, generally, you need your team to perform. Unfortunately, for England (and Italy, and France), both individually and as a team, they didn’t perform.

  2. Mike Saif says:

    Jpolito – you make good points but let me add to them.

    Fabregas – injured. That’s my point, playing with the high level of physical play in the EPL players are more likely to get injured and suffer longer term wear and tear injuries. Gerrard, Torres and Rooney are others that fit into that possibility.

    Donovan had a good WC, but I don’t think you can count his sample of playing just a few months in the EPL. Dempsey did okay but I didn’t see him on any all star line ups of WC players.

    Boateng – see Dempsey above.

    Park didn’t play many games last season so he wasn’t worn out. Tevez did okay and is possibly the best argument you have. Robinho has showed he has struggled with the cold and physical play of the EPL and that is why he went back to Brazil and doesn’t want to come back.

  3. Justin Neese says:

    These are interesting points. Thanks for the posts, guys!

    What about Tim Howard who, I think, was probably the most influential GK at the World Cup. Had Howard not played as well as he did, I don’t think that the Americans would have progressed out of the group stage. I also think that Howard was one of the only goalkeepers to actually successfully deal with the Jabulani ball, which is a considerable accomplishment given the number of goalkeeping “errors” that we saw in South Africa.

    However, Mr. Saif, your point is well taken. I agree that the Premier League is probably the most physically demanding professional league on the planet. A fact that Sir Alex and Capello’s age old arguments for a winter break would certainly support.

    The compounding effect of the league is an interesting point, too: I wonder if the English players had matured in a different league, and if that change had resulted in them putting less stress on their bodies as they grew in their careers, if this “golden generation” of English players would have preformed any differently or better at the World Cup.

    All of this seems fairly obvious, but it begs the question: what is to be done about it? How can a league that is as commercially successful as the Premier League balance what is good for the players (and for the game) with what is good for the business side of football? One would imagine that League leaders and Club chairmen look at the idea of a winter break, or any break for that matter, as nothing more than a negative on the books because no games means no income. Also, one imagines that Premier League chairmen, leaders, and maybe even managers are secretly quite pleased when international events like the World Cup are over, and that they actually care very little about them, because their cessation means that their “property” (the players) is no longer in danger of an injury sustained while battling for another cause, that they can get all of their “property” back in their cotton wool closets, and that they can start to get their minds refocused on pushing forward with their domestic ambitions.

    One would also imagine that some of the players are actually quite happy when International events have come and gone. After all, playing for your country seems to have become a rather impossible situation: you are thrust into a pressure fueled environment; you are asked to perform at the same level or better than you do with your Club despite the fact that you rarely have the same level of players around you; you have precious little time to prepare for these huge events; you working with a somewhat unfamiliar management team and back room staff; and, all the while, you are constantly putting yourself into situations that are fraught with possibility of injury, especially if you have played a long, hard domestic season and are a bit tired. (Note this post: http://www.scienceofsocceronline.com/2010/04/multiple-matches-recovery-and-injury.html. If this is true, I wonder how much recovery time an athlete needs after a whole season of these kinds of pressures in order to perform well.)

    All of this means that the people who have real power in the modern game (the Clubs) probably have very little actual motivation to change the facts that have created our current reality. After all, how do they benefit if an international event goes well? What is in it for them? Nothing really: Their players will still go away for considerable amounts of time to either participate in matches or training; their players will still be distracted by international matches and events; if a possible transfer target performs well at the event, his selling price will increase ten fold; etc.. In fact, the only true benefits to modern Club football offered by International football might be their players performing well and increasing their selling price, their country hosting the event and earning some money that might be reinvested in local football, their country doing well in an event and, as a consequence, there being more of a fad value on that countries players or coaches, etc.. Essentially, if there is not money in it, it seems that Club football could really care less about International football.

    With all of this said, it seems that the only logical solutions are too, either, do away with international soccer all together (which is probably an unacceptable solution, especially as it would mean that real power in the world’s game would no longer rest with Fifa), or to accept the fact that we will probably never see the world’s best players preforming at their best at an international event. The days of Pele, Mardonna, Cruyff, and Beckenbaur, the days of top players dominating a world competition, are probably over. If you want to see top football players playing top football at the peak of their abilities, then you are probably well advised to watch European football in March, April, and maybe May.

    It would be interesting to imagine a world without the World Cup, without international football to distract the throngs from their obsessions with their Clubs, without the moral, legal, and ethical issues caused when Fifa comes to town (http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/sport/2010/0712/1224274512450.html). Would football (so called) be better or worse in this world? I think that it could go either way.

  4. Willy says:

    Mike,

    one quick response to your arguments regarding Dempsey and others. Some players if fit and playing at their best would still not make the WC all star lists! Demspey is a one of the better players for the US, but he is nowhere close to Xavi, Iniesta, Ronaldo, Gerrard, et al.

    On the other hand, I agree that the EPL is draining and that at least in a world cup year, the season should be shortened with a winter break or some other method like for example not allowing international players to play in the useless league cup. Some innovative solution is needed.

  5. Excuse ForEnglish says:

    MSaif
    Your topic: “Name One EPL Player That Had a Good World Cup. JPolito gave you several good examples”. Maybe you should have started your topic as “Name One English EPL Player That Had a Good World Cup”. It sounds like I am hearing a bunch of excuses from the English this year. Buck up and win some games against the MSL and come back in 4 years.