Interesting to see Manchester United boss, Sir Alex Ferguson, claiming that he believes Ryan Giggs could continue playing in the Premiership until he was 40 years-old.
Players are having longer careers these days even in the top grades and there is, I believe, four main reasons for that.
The first reason is the modern pitches which look, at times, like snooker tables they are so verdant and flat. Back in days of old, I remember playing in the Brandywell in up to several inches of heavy mud!
It took me ages to recover from that one game and I can assure you even Ryan Giggs, now 38 years-old, wouldn’t have played until he was 40 if he had been on the pitches of the 1960s and ‘70s.
Then there’s the huge advances in sports nutrition which, back in the 60s, was known as breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Today everything the player eats is practically prescribed for him to allow maximum return in terms of fitness.
Training has evolved to become a science and it’s a whole different ball game to constantly lapping the pitch which used to be the norm.
The other reason players can play longer is that the rules now protect more and the genuine ‘hard man’ has practically went out of the game.
I know some of you might think that this ‘hard man’ is me looking back through ‘rose tinted glasses’, but if you think that a Joey Barton could do anywhere near the damage a Norman Hunter or Tommy Smith could do, then think again!
Then there’s the rotation policy used by big clubs which means that star players are strategically “rested” during the season.
Years ago if you were a good player you were expected to play every game even if you were “fatigued” or injured.
So good luck to Ryan Giggs who is a superb athlete and I hope he plays until he’s 40 and everything is in place to help him do so.
Read more from the Doc in the ‘Journal’ every Tuesday.