One of the most hectic periods of the Premier League calendar is Christmas time, with fixtures coming thick and fast and fatigue setting in for many sides. The strain that the players have to endure can affect teams’ ability to compete across other competitions, and some believe that English top-flight players are at a disadvantage in European tournaments. For this reason, it has been proposed that the richest league in the world should follow in the footsteps of divisions in Italy, France, Germany and Spain, and incorporate a mid-season break.
Success on the international stage?
For people who are adverse to change and like things the way they are, there isn’t any need to get irate just yet. The proposed winter break wouldn’t come into effect until 2020, and that’s if an agreement can be reached on whether it should go ahead. The FA is proposing that there be a two-week break at the start of February, which would give players at least 13 days’ rest between matches. This would help prepare them for the return of the Champions League and Europa League, which reconvene later in the month.
Only three English teams have won the Champions League since the 1992-93 season, when the tournament ceased to be known as the European Cup. These were Manchester United in 1999, Liverpool in 2005, United again in 2008, and Chelsea in 2012. With the financial power of English clubs and the wealth of talent at their disposal, it doesn’t seem right that there have been so few Premier League sides lifting the most coveted prize in European football. Instead, Real Madrid and Barcelona have dominated. There is no denying that these sides always have an extremely strong set of players, but they are also gifted around 18 days off over Christmas to recharge. This surely gives them the energy required to push on in the most important stage of the campaign.
Pep Guardiola recently claimed that the tough winter schedule was “killing his players,” and other managers including Jose Mourinho have vocalised their support for a winter break. Past England managers such as Sam Allardyce have also claimed that giving the players a mid-season break would be beneficial for the national team. The argument against this is the fact that Mesut Ozil and Cesc Fabregas have managed to win World Cups while playing in the Premier League, while Juan Mata and David Silva were part of Spain’s Euro 2012 winning team. Still, these are only a few, and most of the players who have lifted international trophies in recent years have come from other leagues.
Should Premier League Managers Stop Whinging?
There are certainly some strong arguments for introducing a winter break, but not everyone is in favour of it. Football fans love watching match after match, and if the league went into a hiatus just as title races and relegation battles were heating up, it could take some of the excitement out of it. Also, with all the wealth at the disposal of top-flight clubs, do they really have a right to complain about the rigorous programme? Managers know that the busy winter schedule is coming every year, and have the chance to prepare for it by signing players in the transfer window. They also have the option of giving more playing time to academy players.
[blockquote author=””]The proposed winter break may yield some benefits, such as greater success for English teams on the international stage. [/blockquote]
The proposed winter break may yield some benefits, such as greater success for English teams on the international stage. But it could also kill the excitement of the league, just as it enters its most exhilarating period. Only time will tell whether it’s a success or a failure, but it’s looking increasingly likely that the plan will go ahead.