Good Morning. It's Friday 20th March, and here are the latest headlines from Elland Road...
The show must go on
The EFL, FA and Premier League have extended the Soccer season by a further four weeks. The governing bodies of football had originally hoped that they would have positive news to share regarding finishing the season by the 3rd April; but as the deadly virus shows no sign of letting up, this date has now been extended by another four weeks.
The good news for teams in the Championship is the football wig bigs have agreed that they will do everything in their power to finish the season - but will that be enough? The EFL issued the following statement yesterday...
The FA, Premier League, EFL and women’s professional game, together with the PFA and LMA understand we are in unprecedented times and our thoughts are with everyone affected by COVID-19. We are united in our commitment to finding ways of resuming the football season and ensuring all domestic and European club league and cup matches are played as soon as it is safe and possible to do so. We have collectively supported UEFA in postponing EURO 2020 to create space in the calendar to ensure domestic and European club league and cup matches have an increased opportunity to be played and, in doing so, maintain the integrity of each competition.
The FA’s Rules and Regulations state that “the season shall terminate not later than the 1 June” and “each competition shall, within the limit laid down by The FA, determine the length of its own playing season." However, The FA’s Board has agreed for this limit to be extended indefinitely for the 2019/20 season in relation to Professional Football. Additionally, we have collectively agreed that the professional game in England will be further postponed until no earlier than 30 April.
The progress of COVID-19 remains unclear and we can reassure everyone the health and welfare of players, staff and supporters are our priority. We will continue to follow Government advice and work collaboratively to keep the situation under review and explore all options available to find ways of resuming the season when the conditions allow. We would all like to re-emphasise that our thoughts are with everyone affected by COVID-19.
Alex Bruce - Impossible to replicate what you do on training ground
Former Whites defender Alex Bruce, son of Steve, believes the Leeds players will not be able to reproduce a Bielsa style training session from home. The 35 year old centre back who is winding down his career with Kilmarnock concludes that the lack of interaction and competitiveness in training will take its toll on Bielsa's isolated squad.
It’s impossible for any footballer to replicate what you do on the training ground. When you train by yourself, it’s absolutely impossible to do what you do in training. There’s no training more beneficial to a footballer than when you are doing football-related exercises with the amount of bodies to a similar level to what you are.
Bielsa demands certain fitness levels, only he will know when the players come back the level they are at. Footballers are that athletic, certainly in my career, I noticed that when you go back for pre-seasons now, it doesn’t look like some certain people have been away.
With players training from home, could this be a blessing in disguise
We are all aware of Bielsa's stringent demands when it comes to fitness, and with the players now training in their living room instead of a full size pitch at Thorp Arch, their aerobic levels will drop. Is that a bad thing?
We know there is not going to be any action for the next 5 weeks. Shouldn't the players be allowed to relax and take it easy for a few weeks? Had they continued to train throughout all this uncertainty, how long would they have been able to keep going, before burn out? Surely, the players are naturally fit, they don't smoke or drink and they eat a balanced diet. As long as they go through an hours basic regime, should that suffice?
Could this be a blessing in disguise? With 80 percent of the season spent, only 14 players have played more than six games for the Whites - surely the fewest players used in the league? If the players aerobic levels drop, will they still be able to play Bielsa ball?