Burnout seems to be one of those topics that comes to a head in football when injuries are at the forefront or when the club v country row makes an appearance.
Jack Wilshere is the latest name to be at the centre of football burnout. Arsene Wenger, as we have all seen, has very publicly stated that he doesn't want his star playing in this summer's Under-21 Championships and has further complained that the FA are putting the midfielder's health at risk. Are you telling me that Wenger doesn't have his own selfish agenda here? Maybe if Wenger was so worried about burnout he shouldn't have played him in so many games this season. Right, let's get this straight before we move on, burnout is long term exhaustion and diminished interest both physical and emotional. Burnout occurs when you feel overwhelmed.
Now what confuses me is nearly everything I've heard regarding the latest 'Wilshere burnout' debate has been pro Wenger's comments. I can't quite understand why. Maybe I'm wrong but this is how I see it.
What exactly should Stuart Pearce do? Is he supposed to select a second rate team? Pearce's job is to not only develop England's future stars but also go out to achieve and ultimately win. Furthermore playing for England U21s is an honour and extremely valuable experience in pushing to the senior squad. Michael Dawson who's made 13 appearances for the U21s said yesterday that playing for the side has given him vital experience. Even more prominent is that the Arsenal player wants to represent his country in the tournament.
To be honest I think good on him for not throwing his toys out of the pram, showing his ambition and dedication to further his career both internationally and domestically. We have seen recently that this seems to be lacking in quite a few footballers. Isn't this what every young aspiring player dreams of? Or has things changed so much that it's all about money? In addition isn't it better that he piles on the experience at that level so it's less of a step and transition into the seniors?
At 19 he should not suffer physical burnout. Your body is capable of handling a lot more than it is actually put through the majority of time. The sports science that is available now in nutrition, physiotherapy, sports psychologists and alternative therapies is unbelievably impressive. The thing is footballers have unlimited access to the best of it and as long as Wilshere is taking full advantage of this he should physically be fine. Recovery time in somebody that young, that fit and with the facilities and experts available to him should be minimal. I know it's not football but I competed at a level which required training every day as a teen and the people that know me, know the training I do now in boxing and running. I have boxes full of sports nutrition and surround myself by the right people when I need to push my body to the limits. Ironically I'm currently injured but that's because I ran a marathon recently on a bad injury. Not clever! Seriously though as long as the future England star is surrounded by the right people and doesn't go off on drinking jollies then he will not suffer burnout. Some footballers not mentioning any names have tailed off because they lack the discipline needed to make it to the very top and make their career last. What people have to remember is that while his playing schedule is tough, Arsenal didn't have extra games through cup competitions and I know I'm pointing out the obvious but this is Wilshere's only job. Hence he finishes training, has a massage/physiotherapy, is then looked after by nutritionists and most importantly rests.
The key thing is that everybody around the midfielder is supportive including his club boss so that he doesn't start questioning himself and whether he can cope. It's hard to completely believe in your ability to deal with everything when everybody seems to be questioning it. The only thing that will cause Wilshere to burnout is his mental state. However he is surrounded by the best to help him psychologically deal with the emotional stress.
I know that a lot of the opinion is we need to nurture our rising star and his natural ability which doesn't come along that often but I don't see how stopping him doing what he is striving for is going to help.
In my opinion you should take opportunities that come your way and are in line with your dreams, life is too short and you never know what is around the corner. Wilshere's attitude should be praised, nurtured and encouraged.