Allan Jones: Fresh stars for world stage Fifa obligation

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Fifa need to consider a longer break between the end of major domestic seasons and the start of the World Cup to ensure players are fresh heading into the tournament.

If they are serious about the World Cup being the pinnacle of their four-yearly calendar, and they should be, something needs to be done to ensure players don't turn up jaded.

Fans want to see the best players perform at the top level but all too often they can't produce the form that made them stars.

I wasn't at all surprised England, Italy and France were sent packing early. Teams featuring players in the English Premier League, such as England and France, looked tired, unenthusiastic and uninterested. A break of a couple of months before the start of the World Cup would help them freshen up.

Of course, this will be difficult because the Premier League would rail against shortening their season or fitting it into a tighter window. The competition is a cash cow and shortening the season could reduce profits.

It's also hard to believe fans would accept this. For all their bleating about England's demise in South Africa, fans quickly turn their attentions to the domestic leagues and forget about the World Cup for another four years.

But it shouldn't be forgotten so easily and it is Fifa's obligation to do something. They have to take control and guide their confederations on their domestic competitions.

If they are responsible for the game, then they have to be responsible for everything. At the moment they are abdicating their responsibilities and it is leading to domestic chaos.

I suspect they won't do anything and might only intervene if a few clubs go under and can't afford to pay players' wages. That might take another decade but talks should start now - because these issues will have the greatest impact.

Most European countries, including World Cup quarter-finalists Germany, Spain and the Netherlands, take a break of a month in December - January. Argentina also has a winter break and plays fewer cup competitions than England.

Part of the reason is the weather and it's hard to know whether they would continue if pitches didn't freeze over or were covered by snow but it's hard to escape the fact these sides have looked a lot fresher than England did.

The energy levels of the New Zealand side was also a major reason they did so well. Many were worried they would arrive in South Africa under-done, because the A-League finished so early, but it proved an asset.

A major reason for England's problem is the Champions League. This puts a huge strain on clubs and players, even though most top clubs operate a rotation system.

Manchester United, for example, can't afford to take a side like Hull City lightly because if they drop their levels they will drops points. The competition is that strong.

How is it that Portsmouth can play in two FA Cup finals yet get relegated from the Premiership?

Other countries simply don't have to operate at the level English sides do because their leagues don't have as much depth.

- Herald on Sunday

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