“The word you will hear a lot is ‘emptiness’,” Rene Meulensteen, the former Manchester United coach, says. “You feel empty.”

After a six-week hiatus, the Premier League is back… but maybe not back with a bang for everyone.

Although Erling Haaland and Mohamed Salah will be among those desperate to make up for lost time after watching the World Cup from their sofas, it is impossible to know what to expect from the 133 Premier League players (at least 50 more than any other league) who have been on duty in Qatar.

There are World Cup winners and losing finalists among them. Some missed critical penalties in the knockout-phase shootouts, others never got a minute of match action.

There were stories of personal redemption and groundbreaking team success alongside humiliating group-stage exits and tears and regret.

Between them, they have been through every emotion possible and, in some cases, crammed seven high-pressure games into less than four weeks. Whether their experiences were good, bad or indifferent, is it realistic to expect these players to flick a switch, swap their country’s shirt for their club’s one and carry on as normal?

A report published on the eve of the tournament by FIFPro, football’s global players’ union, highlighted how, since 1990, there has been an average of 37 days between the last match of a World Cup and the next Premier League game. The time frame after Qatar 2022? Eight days.

The physical demands are one thing (and they are extraordinary — building on data in that FIFPro report, Harry Kane has now made 91 appearances for Tottenham Hotspur and England since July 2021, while Virgil van Dijk has played the equivalent of 95 90-minute matches over that same period in the colours of Liverpool and the Netherlands) — but the mental side is every bit as significant.

“You feel drained,” explains Meulensteen, who was assistant manager of the Australia team that reached the last 16 in Qatar before losing narrowly to eventual champions Argentina. “You get swallowed up by the rollercoaster of intensity because of the short turnover between games, the rollercoaster of expectations depending on different countries, and then you get into the rollercoaster of disappointments or, the opposite, euphoria — and all those emotions get bottled up because you’ve got no time really to digest it.”