“We’re specifically not calling it a mini pre-season,” AS Monaco performance director James Bunce tells Monaco Life, as he lays out the club’s plans for this unique mid-season break.
Whilst the specificities of AS Monaco’s mid-season plans are yet to be revealed, Bunce gave a rough outline of the programme in an exclusive interview with Monaco Life.
Like every club, Monaco is taking a step into the unknown this winter. Due to the meteorological conditions in Qatar, the World Cup was this year moved to the winter – a first for the most important international competition in world football.
The competition gets underway on 20th November and concludes on 18th December. Ligue 1 action then gets back underway for Monaco on 28th December with a trip to Auxerre.
Players swap the Principality for Qatar
The performance staff at the Principality club now have the task of maintaining fitness levels throughout this break. Youssouf Fofana (France), Krépin Diatta (Senegal), Ismail Jakobs (Senegal), Takumi Minamino (Japan), Guillermo Maripán (Chile) and Breel Embolo (Switzerland) will all go away with their respective national teams and compete in this year’s competition.
For those not competing, they will be following a tailored programme to maintain their levels without allowing fatigue to seep in, in what is an intense, condensed season of football.
“When we found out the World Cup was going to be in this period, we, like everyone else, have never dealt with that before. So we’ve had lots of conversations on this, lots of tweaks, lots of meetings with the physical staff, the medical staff [and] the technical staff to build what we believe is the best scenario. For us, we actually look at it in terms of what advantages we can take from it,” Bunce tells Monaco Life.
Radical plans for an intense season of football
“There will be a moment of rest and recovery because, again, this time is unique and we’d like to take this opportunity to allow the players to have some refreshment because we’ve been going since 14th June. Then we’re going into, and we’re specifically not calling it this, a ‘mini pre-season,’ because there isn’t the same basis, as they already have their fitness; they’ve already got that base. But now it’s about tweaking that and keeping that fresh,” says Bunce.
“We go on camp to Spain for 10 days, before running a one-game per-week schedule for each player. Sometimes that will mean playing two games on the same day so that every player can have 90 minutes. We have some big teams that we’re going to be playing in that period,” he continues.
Bunce concludes, “From the start of the season until the November window, it’s basically three months’ worth of games and then when we come back, until the next international window, it’s four months. So actually, it’s going to be a bigger, harder period. If everyone thought that the period from the start of the season was tough, it’s actually going to be tougher. If we finish second in Europa (League), nine of those twelve weeks will include two games a week. It’s a big, hard run. It makes a big difference. That’s why we’re looking at it in terms of a refresh, get some energy, get some recalibration because the next period after that will be hard for everyone.”
At the beginning of the season, Philippe Clement referred to the opening run of games as “a sprint within a marathon”. But in reality, the sprint is a marathon, with the pre-World Cup relentless scheduling preceding an equally tough post-World Cup schedule.
The way that this unique break is managed by clubs could have a significant bearing on the rest of the campaign.
Photo by Monaco Life