A weird mix of dread and excitement are filling the air as the World Cup draws near. For both clubs and players, it’s been a bit of a shock to have a tournament during this time. However, there are some clubs that desperately need this break.
By the time the World Cup starts, the Prem will be nearing its nadir with the future still very much in the hands of most teams. Which means that some teams will see this break as a chance to refresh before the restart.
In what has been a pretty exciting season, some teams have risen as others have fallen. The teams that have fallen are a mixture of contenders and relegation candidates. All these sides have different reasons why they have failed, but they are all united in failure.
As the Prem is a marathon of the highest pace, this month-long break will be the only time these teams will have to regroup. For some, it means nursing players back to full health, while others need to rethink everything. Of course nothing is guaranteed, but this break will be the perfect pit stop for them.
The World Cup is always an exciting time, despite the myriad of awfulness surrounding this one, but for certain clubs it will be a needed break.
Since winning the league in 2016, Leicester City have sought to be a model of stability. Until this season, it seemed like everything was going to plan.
At the beginning of the season, the Foxes looked well on the path to relegation. A defense and keeper that were softer than tissue paper and Jamie Vardy needing to carry this team. However, the club has begun to stabilize once more thanks to the great play of Youri Tielemans.
Injuries and terrible transfer decisions have really plagued the club so far. The backline was either sold off or injured to high heaven, leaving opponents to waltz into the box. These defensive issues have only been exaggerated by the terrible play of Danny Ward.
With the club seemingly starting to turn a corner, this break must be a time to reecharge. Figuring out the Soyuncu situation will help as well, either selling him or bringing him back into the squad. In addition, finding a way to get more creativity into this side is a must.
Being eliminated from the Europa League should give Leicester a life line to focus entirely on the Prem. While they may not reach a European spot, any sort of stability at this point should be seen as a positive sign.
The darling of so many pundits, including this one, it’s hard to gauge exactly what’s gone wrong for the London side. Perhaps it’s the weight of too many expectations, or maybe it’s that they’ve put all their eggs into Europe.
It’s been a free fall for the hammers these past few weeks, losing three out of five matches. It’s not just the past few weeks, as they started the season terribly. Top performers from last season have failed to recapture that magic while new signings have yet to find an impact in the Prem.
While they have struggled domestically, they look like prime Barcelona in the Conference League. Winning every group game, they should seriously be considered as the favorites for the cup, as no other team has matched what they’ve done. Every transfer that has struggled in the Prem thus far has lit up Europe in a truly peculiar way.
On one hand their form is concerning and may doom them to a mid table finish despite European predictions. While on the other hand, they may just dominate the Conference League, so they wouldn’t need a high finish. During the break, they need to find a way to balance their ambitions or fully commit to the Conference League.
If Moyes was able to find a way to translate that European form to the Prem, West Ham would be a top 4 side. During this break, they must find a way to get more out of their players or just bet on Europe which might just work.
For years now, Southampton has refused to die, losing by insane score lines only to finish safely above relegation. It may now be time for this storied side to finally accept the drop.
Ralph Hasenhuttl was released on Monday and replaced by Luton’s Nathan Jones. This move comes as the Saints find themselves in 18th place. Despite beating both Chelsea and Leicester early in the season, Southampton has only won once since.
Being towards the bottom both defensively and offensively will condemn any side to relegation. It seems like the sale of Danny Ings has finally come back to bite the Saints, as they just can’t find any semblance of offense. Despite some good performances by Gavin Bazunu, the backline has left the youngster completely exposed, leading to an awful record.
The most important thing for the Saints this break is to allow Jones to properly assess the squad and implement his tactics. Hiring a manager with no Prem experience is truly risky at this stage, so this break has to go correctly. Jones needs to find a way to protect Bazunu while giving Che Adams the keys to the offense.
Southampton still has a chance to dig themselves out of this hole, but the margin of error is closing by the day. Unfortunately for Jones, there will be no time to experiment, as he must get everything right to avoid the drop.
This hibernation period will be interesting for so many different clubs and may have a real impact across Europe. In what is already a weird situation, some clubs will find themselves counting down the minutes until the recess happens. While some players will go to work in Qatar, other players and clubs will find themselves back on the pitch to avoid more disappointment.
Featured image: Getty