With the Qatar World Cup now over, the domestic season can finally get going again. It’s been a very unique season so far and the major European leagues have been forced into a month-long break at a time when the season normally starts to kick up a notch.
As players return from their World Cup duty, with some dejected and others in ecstatic moods, it’s the job of the clubs to now ensure they can maintain utmost concentration for the gruelling second half of the domestic campaign.
To do so, clubs are taking their own unique approach to help players adapt back to the club level.
Most are giving the players an adequate amount of time off to get refreshed and then come back in high spirits. Others are playing them in friendly games and giving them balanced training regimes to avoid the risk of injuries.
Manchester United have come up with a really interesting way of helping their players bounce back from the World Cup hangover.
Erik ten Hag has made use of his personal connections to hire a team of ‘life coaches’ who will help the players deal with any psychological issues or exhaustion following their participation in the major international competition.
Ten Hag is well aware that players will return from Qatar with different emotions and in contrasting frames of mind.
So he’s hired some coaches from the Dutch company Talent Academy Group (TAG) to help identify the players’ emotional transition and get them to re-focus on the club level quickly.
Rainier Koers, a performance coach from TAG was also with the United squad in their winter training camp in Spain.
Koers describes himself as a life coach and said about his style in the past: “Helping people makes me very happy. I do that by listening, watching and feeling what is going on with the other person and making them aware of unconscious behaviour towards change.”
United had 13 players participate in the World Cup and saw most of them end the tournament with mixed results.
Lisandro Martinez, who won the competition with Argentina, faces the toughest adaptation back to club-level football alongside Raphael Varne (who played in the final) – as the two have the least amount of resting period before having to get back to top-level football.
Captain Harry Maguire, who had a solid World Cup campaign, is always under pressure at Old Trafford because of the overwhelming amount of criticism he gets every time he plays for them.
The newly hired experts will be tasked to work with heavily-criticized players like him, identifying their problems and eliminating them quickly to ensure they can perform at the highest level as well.
Ten Hag has been quite understanding of the possibilities of the mental strains players face at Old Trafford.
He has already sent Jadon Sancho to train on his own in the Netherlands after he failed to make England’s World Cup squad. The Dutchman insists that Sancho won’t return until he is both physically and mentally fit to play for his side.
The United manager has also reportedly consulted some Tour de France cycling teams in his time off for advice on optimum sleeping patterns and nutrition levels for his players.
Ten Hag is proving himself as the ultimate ‘modern manager’ with such innovative moves and ensuring he can get his players at their fittest for the gruelling second half of the season.