For a league that has acquired a reputation for its gruelling schedule the breaks will enable the clubs to keep their players fresh leading to better performances.
The upcoming season of the Indian Super League (ISL) will have three breaks, two for FIFA windows (8th -16th October 2018 / 12th – 20th November 2018), and one, starting from 17th December 2018 for the Indian national team’s preparatory camp ahead of the AFC Asian Cup in the UAE.
While the I-league will not have any such privilege given the majority of India’s prime players participating in the ISL currently, the move may affect clubs like Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, who have time and again targeted the I-league title with vehement hunger.
Retrospectively, with a match every five days, teams have in the past shown enough anger and dissent over the scheduling of the league. Internationally-renowned players like Helder Postiga, Alessandro Del Piero, Dimitar Berbatov and Robbie Keane have given in to injuries contributed to by the compact schedule in the previous editions and players will have a little break every once in a while.
While the gruesome nature continues to hold on to its style, teams that suffer from injuries more frequently than others will be happy to have their players back after the break. The breaks will also help returning players’ integration into the style of a side, that usually changes as the season wears on.
The coaches, meanwhile, will be able to have a little time to look out and fill the gaps in the side, that are usually overseen by the management due to the tight schedule. This will help the quality of the side, make it better and help coaches adapt different strategies at different stages of the league, according to the situation.
Niggles and injuries are a major part of a player’s life and a gap every once in a while is a feel-good factor for them to recover, both physically and mentally. Every player, after a break, is hungrier to return to the football pitch and that helps with drive in the game. Also, it will help managers to make sure that the players have enough rest every now and then, something that is important for India in terms of managing key national team players like Sunil Chhetri.
Also, the players will have more time to spend together, given the small gaps. While the national team is the priority, the clubs can integrate the other players into their philosophy and look for long-term associations, something that the ISL now must look at.
The Indian transfer window, technically, never closes. Thus, if a manager needs to bring in someone and integrate him directly into the side, there is the time gap of close to eight days (minimum) to ensure that a new player is in and knows the club and playing style well enough to play his part on the pitch.
Such infusions will help sides, certainly. The short presence of Keziron Kizito after he was signed to bolster Kerala Blasters’ midfield had changed their gameplay, but the player then had to sit out with injury. If such signings are made more regularly, the ISL may well see a lot more excitement, change in gameplay, and situational diversities across the LEAGUE.
The only flip side that currently looms large is the break in rhythm. Most sides have either completed their pre-seasons, or are deep into them. The fitness of the players is returning and coaches, old or new, are implementing their systems in the minds and muscle memories of the players. This rhythm, if a team is winning regularly, can break and can affect the morale of a side.
The coach’s role, here, is to make sure the winning momentum stays, with the players always returning with extra vigor and hunger to the side and to the league. Thus, the other reasons override this one and while rhythm is certainly important, the influx of professionals in the league should make sure that it does not affect the players much.