Should the English Premier League have a winter break?

Premier League

Winter break or no winter break? Are the latest generation of footballers being wrapped up in cotton wool? Why can’t footballers play three times in the same week? These are some of the questions being asked by fans, pundits and coaches all over the land. Football has always been played over the Christmas period in this country. As recent as the 1950s, there used to be a full fixture list on Christmas Day, that was until the workers of public transport decided that enough was enough and games were moved to Boxing Day. Most of Europe, if not all of it, have a two week break during or after Christmas. Recent World Cup winners Germany and Spain have said that their players felt fresher come what May, when they rock up at the big tournaments.

Last season was a case in point. Newly appointed Liverpool manager, Jurgen Klopp had amassed 10 injuries to his squad by the end of December. “Maybe it is time for it to be introduced to the calendar” said Klopp at his post Boxing Day press conference. Over in Manchester, then Manchester United boss Louis Van Gaal had similar problems. Players injured or not being able to play 48 hours after their last fixture had caused selection headaches for the Dutchman. “Young and Morgan (Schneiderlin) are in the red zone and will not play, against Sheffield United, but should make the game on Tuesday at Newcastle” which begs me to ask, what on earth is the “red zone”? Where is it? Where has it come from? I can only assume it is some sort of fitness tracker which monitors players blood and sugar levels before, during and after matches. I’m pretty sure none of the players in the last however many years have ever been to the red zone, or if they had, would most probably have still played.

Arsene Wenger, another foreign coach who on arriving on our shores could not believe we played at Christmas, was quoted as saying, “all new coaches who come to this league say the same thing. Then once they get used to the culture, they embrace it” maybe Arsene, but you try telling Klopp’s physio that, who is most probably doing double shifts in a bid to get the squad back together.

What would be the benefits of a winter break? As a football fan there would be a huge football shaped hole for two weeks at the end of December. Yes, the players may well get a nice break and return to action refreshed and ready to go. Critics will say that for £100,000 a week, you should be able to play every day!

Ok, so the good chaps of the FA down at Wembley decide to bring a winter break into our league calendar. Would this improve our chances of winning a World Cup or European Championship? I don’t think so. Our domestic season tends to finish around the middle to end of May, in a season which involves a major tournament. Players selected have around 10-14 days rest before training and said tournament begins. And let’s not forget, being selected for any country should be a privilege and not a chore.

I for one am against the winter break, but if they could guarantee success in a major tournament, then who am I to argue?