England risk burnout at Euros – Dutch coach

Published: 3 June 2016 at 14:14

A footballer dribbling with the ball

Ahead of Anglia Ruskin talk, Verheijen says freshness is key to tournament success

Untitled PageLeading football coach Raymond Verheijen believes England are in danger of training too hard ahead of the European Championships.

Verheijen, who has been an assistant coach at every European Championships and World Cup since being appointed to Frank Rijkaard’s backroom team in 1998, thinks Roy Hodgson began his preparations too soon and his players are in danger of burnout at Euro 2016.

However, instead of taking part in Euro 2016 Verheijen – who has worked as a coach with Holland, South Korea, Russia, Argentina and Wales – will be sharing his expertise on “Football Periodisation” at Anglia Ruskin University later this month. 

Football Periodisation is a coaching technique developed by Verheijen to improve fitness, avoid fatigue and help players remain injury-free.

The Dutchman said: 

“England have some good young players.  More in midfield and attack than defence, but it is a promising team.  The danger is how these young talents are treated. 

“They have just finished the Premier League season. They are still fit but they are tired, so what is the last thing the manager should do?  Plan a training camp straight after the end of the Premier League season.  It is about the worst thing you can do.

“You need to regain freshness while maintaining your fitness.  If you give them a seven-day break, which is something almost every country does, then their bodies can recover, and not only the muscles but also the brain.  

“It is no surprise that the weeks before the Euros you have these muscle injuries, and then read that this player or that player will miss the Euros.  It is better to train three weeks at 100% than four weeks at 80% because you are still tired from the season.  The fact that England have had a four-week preparation is a worrying thing.”

The conditioning expert, who has worked alongside the likes of Guus Hiddink, Dick Advocaat and Louis van Gaal, is now CEO of the World Football Academy, which provides independent education and training to coaches.

Verheijen, who is tipping Germany and Spain as favourites for the title this summer, added: 

“There is so much pressure on national coaches, and because of the insecurity they want to train more to increase their chance of success.  

“They will do double sessions, they will do triple sessions, they will do conditioning sessions.  But if you do all that with players who are fit but tired, they will just become even more tired.

“If you aren’t fresh, your accuracy will be lower, the speed of your actions will be lower and your injury risk will be higher, and so your performance will go down.

“The winter break is another thing.  While the Bayern Munich players were enjoying themselves with their families in the sun in Dubai, the England players were playing even more games than normal.  Freshness is going to win you the title in a tournament, not fitness.” 

Verheijan will be speaking at Anglia Ruskin University’s Cambridge Centre for Sport and Exercise Sciences on Thursday, 23 June, and the event is suitable for coaches of all levels.  For further information, visit www.anglia.ac.uk/wfacourse