Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher feels players are being made to suffer an ‘an unreasonable and increasingly unsustainable football calendar’ – but he is not convinced Arsene Wenger’s biannual World Cup plan is the answer to the problem.
Wenger has been seeking the support of many top former players and Carragher is among those to have spoken to the ex-Arsenal manager about his plan to freshen up international football.
While Wenger was ‘preaching to a converted audience’ in Carragher in suggesting radical change, the pair disagreed over holding more World Cups and Carragher wants to see the Frenchman liaise with current players on his vision.
‘Until all the governing bodies start listening to them, there is no prospect of a reasonable fix for an unreasonable and increasingly unsustainable football calendar,’ Carragher wrote in his Telegraph column.
‘By the end of my discussions with Wenger and other ex-players, I thought, “why are you asking us about solutions instead of the current players?” Listen to those who must play all these games.
‘The views of Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois carry far more weight than those playing 20 or 30 years ago.’
Courtois, who played 61 times in 285 days last season, has been particularly outspoken on the treatment of players.
The Belgian goalkeeper accused football’s governing bodies of prioritising money over player welfare ahead of his nation’s UEFA Nations League third-placed play-off against Italy.
Having likened players to being treated as ‘robots’, Courtois said: ‘This game is just a money game and we have to be honest about it. We just play it because for UEFA it’s extra money.’
He added: ‘In the end, top players will get injured and injured and injured. We are not robots. It’s just more and more games and less rest for us.
‘Next year we have a World Cup in November, we have to play until the latter stages of June again. We will get injured. Nobody cares about the players any more. If we never say anything it will be always the same.’
Carragher was in total agreement with Courtois having watched his live TV interview, tweeting that he agreed the third-placed play-off is an ‘absolute waste of time’ for all involved.
Dutch star-turned-pundit Rafael van der Vaart warned Courtois to ‘stop whining’ but for Carragher it is the outspoken views of someone like the Belgian goalkeeper that will provide the biggest headache to those at FIFA and UEFA who are looking to fill the calendar.
‘The most credible opinions are those of the contemporary, elite coaches and players who must deal with the constant physical and mental pressure of travelling around the world and delivering their highest performance levels 12 months a year,’ Carragher added.
Club football, Carragher adds, remains ‘vastly superior’ and until the views and qualms of current players and coaches are addressed there will be a gridlock to bringing about ‘radical’ changes to the footballing calendar.