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Danger Of Burn Out


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Yesterday, much to the displeasure of England U21 coach Stuart Pearce, Rovers midfielder David Bentley withdrew from the England U21 European Championship, stating fatigue as the reason. Whilst I can sympathise with Pearce having lost his best player, it should not have come as a surprise to Pearce as he (Pearce) was made aware of the situation before the U21 squad was chosen by Bentley’s club manager Mark Hughes.

The media and we as fans are quick to criticise players when they under perform, we expect 100 per cent commitment from our players every time they run out on to the park. We expect them to “turn it on” and entertain us for ten months of the year in league and cup games for our clubs, not to mention additional international games during the season and tournaments in the close season.

Many fans would argue that they work 12 months of the year, with only 3 to 4 weeks annual leave. However, how many could honestly say that they are fully committed during that period, how many times have they physically gone into work without a mental attitude to undertake a full day’s graft. Unlike the modern day footballer they aren’t under the scrutiny of millions of viewers as they undertake their chosen occupation or whilst partaking in leisure activities.

In the modern fast pace game, it is not only the physical wear on the body that players have to deal with but also the mental pressure of being in the media 24/7 for 12 months of the year.

Excluding, U21 games Bentley has played 51 competitive games for Blackburn in his first full premiership season, that’s only 19 appearances less than Desert Orchid made in 9 years and 29 less than Red Rum made in 10 years on the racetrack. If England U21 reach the final of the European Championship, Bentley would have only had a 6 day break before Rovers start the 2007/2008 season in the Intertoto Cup. How many fans would appreciate that amount of annual leave ?

It is no wonder that players do not perform to their best abilities and short change the paying public. It is time that the people in charge of the game wise up to the fact that despite specific programmes of exercise and control it is unlikely that players can perform 12 months of the year – otherwise even like the best thoroughbred race horse they will burn out.

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Speaking in an interview with TalkSport this morning Bentley stated:

"All I can say is the decision was a two-week decision. When I first found out I was going to be included in the squad, Blackburn and myself took the appropriate measures and ways and discussed it with the management. It came to a point where I had to pull myself out of the squad.

"I think it is for the betterment of my career. I owe a lot to the Blackburn fans and they're paying the money to watch me week-in and week-out."

When asked what the Pearces reaction was, Bentley replied

"He was disappointed as a manager should be and I fully accept that it was a controversial decision.

Bentley went on to say

"I love playing for England, I love my country every time I step out on the pitch I give my all for anyone I play for. If you look at my Under-21s career, I have never not given my all for it.

"I had three decisions; the club could have pulled me out, I could have pulled myself out or I could have faked an injury. I am an honest lad, I'm not a robot and I wanted to give my decision and my opinion on it.

"I've never come off a 60-game season and then gone straight into another one, I was alien to it. It wasn't a rash decision, I asked senior players at England 'what do you feel like come October or November' and they said 'you hit a brick wall'.

"They added 'If you want to be firing and you want to make a push for the European Championships next year, then I really think you have got to think long and hard'."

"I give my all every time I step out onto the football pitch.

"I don't want to let anyone down.

" I have to listen to what my body is telling me.

"I really respect my profession and I wouldn't disrespect my profession by messing around off the pitch.

"I surround myself with my family, I speak to my dad and my mum every day and I've asked their opinion. They do normal jobs so it's not like I'm out of touch with daily life."

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In a weekend that the media and internet message boards has been concentrating on David Bentley’s withdrawal from the England U21 squad, Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard has also come out and stated that he’s totally exhausted.

In an article by John Richardson in the Sunday Express, Gerrard admitted that he barely has the energy left to see him through his wedding on Saturday. In the article Gerrard is quoted as saying. “ Right now I need a long rest, its as simple as that”

In the same newspaper, Chelsea’s Joe Cole admits, that he needs a break as he came back to soon from his knee injury.

As I wrote yesterday, it is time that the people in charge of the game wise up to the fact that despite specific programmes of exercise and control it is unlikely that players can perform 12 months of the year – otherwise they will burn out.

At least David Bentley saw the tell tale signs of fatigue, unlike the England U21 manager Stuart Pearce who was prepared to sacrifice the young Blackburn midfielder as another casualty of Burn Out.

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