Should the English Premier League have a winter break? No, the English Premier League should not have a winter break and I’ll explain why.
First of all, the idea of the winter break is to give the players a break and keep them fresh throughout the latter stages of the season. That to me shows an inconsiderate amount of disrespect to all of the squads. At the beginning of each season, the manager is asked to pick 25 of his best players over the age of 21. That rule does not apply to players under the age of 21 meaning the manager can call upon any of his lesser experienced players at any given point of the season to boost the numbers of his squad. Irrespective of how many players are used throughout the campaign, these are elite level athletes who go on pre-season tours to prepare for these types of conditions with top of the range Doctors, Masseurs and Physiotherapists. All top Football Clubs have Sports Scientist whose job it is to keep the players at their most physically possible peak by designing and performing warm ups and drills during training and before a game.
The ‘Christmas Period’ is as vital as the opening and closing weeks of the season and dare I say it, provides the most shocks of the season. Due to the nature of squad rotation with 6-8 possible games in the month of December and early January to be played, a team battling for the Premier League title such as Manchester United could send out a mixed team of youth and experience against a team fighting for their lives down at the bottom of the table and suffer a hard fought 1-0 defeat which can define a season. An example of this would be West Ham United defeating Chelsea FC at Upton Park 3-1, or even Queens Park Rangers clawing out a 1-0 victory at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea FC both occurring in the season of 2012/2013.
Some of the experts such as the current England manager, Roy Hodgson, may have a differing opinion, which this quote suggests. “It might be better if we spread the load a little bit differently and we give them more breaks and certainly a break in the middle of the season. I don’t think the best way to keep players fit is to push them through 60 games in eight-and-a-half months then have three-and-a-half months with no football”. Roy Hodgson, you may wish to take your own advice. Despite the 2012/2013 season closing up on the 14th of May 2013, Mr. Hodgson called up a squad of English players who have just competed in a very demanding and competitive season so they could compete against the Republic of Ireland on the 29th of May 2013 at Wembley stadium and then make the batch of players travel all the way to South America to compete in another friendly against Brazil on the 2nd of June 2013. Lest we forget the other energy consuming friendlies the English F.A arranged pitting England against Brazil on the 6th of February 2013 at Wembley but also made them compete in Sweden on the 14th of November 2012, right before the hectic Christmas Period he is so publicly against.
Carrying on the topic of International football being heavily intertwined to the winter break, there appears to be a myth floating around that a 6-week winter break in Germany has been the key to the success of the German National Team. Without straying too far from the topic, the key to Germany’s success is their array of fantastic homegrown talent being utilized in the German leagues. The lack of a winter break is not the reason for the England national teams shortcomings. The English national team is failing due to a lack of quality young players. The fact that German teams have a two week holiday followed by four weeks winter training filled with friendlies is completely irrelevant.
Considering all points, the lack of a winter break allows the fans to watch regular games throughout the winter period without interrupting a teams momentum by sending them on a potential six week break from competitive football whilst allowing me, as a fan, the chance to watch a high volume of games with many ups and downs, twists an turns and upsets. If the English Football Association implements a winter break I believe we will see a drastic drop in drama that makes the English Premier League so unique from other leagues around Europe that have a winter break.
Roy Hodgson interview: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/foo...ter-break.html
Should the English Premier League have a winter break?
A large part of appeal to the casual fan is the winter games in England. It is romantic. The idea of being at home watching the 'big game' with your family & friends in front of a television with food, alchohol and festive activites. Down at the local watering hole also works. It makes the appeal of the English Premier League bigger. It is the time of year where it expands beyond just being a sport or hobby and where it becomes a family activity, an activity with friends, a sweetener to the already special festivities that surrounds the holiday periods. IMO, it is English footballs' Superbowl.
Just like the Superbowl, there is increased financial bonuses to games over the festive period. Bigger viewing audiences means advertisement slots and opportunities are bigger & better. Clubs get a slice of that, introducing the reason why a winter break has never been heavily pursuited.
So that's one perspective to it. It is very appealing to the mass audience. When you include finance, it is very appealing to club & broadcaster. But is it appealing to players and coaches?
I am not in the mind of all of them but I imagine that they dislike it. Training over Christmas when they could be with their families & playing in freezing conditions, traveling cross country. Factor in it's not good for fitness. They are playing 4-5 games over a 2-3 week period all around the country. Then when that is over, straight into more games. League, League Cup, F.A Cup. The games start to pile up, back into European competition for top teams. After a while, it takes it toll. Very slowly players can't commit to every game. During tournament year (Euros, World Cup), they don't get that opportunity for a big break. 4-5 weeks in a foreign country playing international football, then straight onto pre-season tours abroad and before you know it, they are back to playing in Newcastle or Stoke in December. Fitness takes a big hit. The quality of several players, especially those over-exposed to games that just keep on stacking up, take a big hit.
What side do I support here? I support having a break. I want to watch the very best of football. I believe a winter break would hand in hand increase quality.
Lets take Germany into example. They run a 5 week break from all competitions. Does it benefit them? Their league is starting to become the hotspot for more devoted footballing fans. The winter break isn't 100% the cause of that. But it has breeded more competitiveness after the winter is over when their players return in top shape and ready to tackle the second half of the campaign. This is starting to show in their European competition form. With Bayern reaching 3 finals in the past 4 years, Dortmund reaching the finals last year with a very thin squad & Schalke getting to the semis in 2011. The winter break in Germany was introduced in December 2009. Later that season, Bayern Munich reached the finals of the Champions League for the first time since 2001. Co-incidence? That year, yes. But in 2013? No. It isn't a co-incidence, it's hallowing evidence to the English game that this is working for them. The introduction of a break and the one small cup competition has elevated their league standard and has improved their form in European competition.
In England, it's not as great. They are forced to sacrifice tournaments in change for either European or domestic league success. Their league format is extremely draining. 38 games of the highest quality and calibre of physical demands. When factoring in two domestic cups which are sandwiched into any gap between league games & European/Internationals, everything stacks up. Chelsea is a good example of being able to work around the many games on offer. But while they balance themselves, their league form is often sacrilege for success in other frontiers. The two most recent champions of the Premier League have found themselves stifled on the European front as a result of their intense conquest for domestic bliss over their rivals. Why can't they have both European and domestic successes in the same season? Because their best players aren't afforded a break at the expense of corporate greed.
So there are two points. The romanticism for the English supporter. And the health & fitness of the player. One breeds greed, the other success. One gives an entertaining time of year, the other gives fitness issues, potential injuries and problems for the final 5 months ahead.
So, should English football have a winter break? Yes.
There are many factors that makes the premier league so tough. There's the tough physicality of English football that has seen quality foreign players unable to adapt, there's the having to travel to Stoke at least once every season and then there's football players like Suarez who try to eat other players. But perhaps the toughest part of the Premier League is the schedule. Whereas the top leagues in Spain, Germany, Portugal, France and Scotland get a winter break, English teams find themselves still slogging on without a rest. This is during a crucial period in the season as well where teams are now half way through their season and have their goals in sight. It's now pretty much decided who is fighting for Europe, who is battling for the Premier league title and who is fighting for Premiership survival.
With this I will argue in favour of a winter break. The winter break can be very testing for teams where players can find themselves playing five games in fifteen days. This is a real test of fitness and mental strength but also completely unnecessary. All that really is achieved is albeit one of the most interesting periods of the league but also where the quality is doomed to diminish due to fitness. What would undoubtedly be more interesting is a period of rest where teams and managers would then be given the chance to take a step back from a very busy schedule and evaluate the rest of the season. Managers can assess where they stand in the league, what they need to achieve and also what movements they're going to make in the January transfer window. This gives teams a chance to look at their season and focus on their goals. This certainly makes for more interesting football than simply throwing teams on for a relentless period of football.
Another way of looking at this debate is to see who really achieves with this schedule at the moment. It's pretty clear the teams don't. Most managers would certainly opt for the break and probably for reasons stated in the last paragraph. In fact we've seen Premiership managers such as Sir Alex Ferguson, Roberto Mancini and Roy Hodgson support a winter break for the Premiership. There's certainly no managers in the other leagues with winter breaks arguing against their winter breaks either. The only really winners of the schedule at the moment is the fans who get to see constant football around this time but as mentioned before, how good can the matches be when teams aren't performing to a hundred percent?
The breaks aren't even that long. La Liga (Spain) break at 22nd December and play again at 5th January. Serie A (Italy) break up at the same time but return on the 6th January. Bundesliga (Germany) break up the 22nd December as well and return 19th January. These are just a couple examples of three of the best leagues in the world that have winter breaks. There is no concern or consequence with either.
So it's with that I conclude that the Premiership should introduce a winter break. There would be no issue with an introduction of a winter break and I even believe that fans would support it. This isn't me feeling sorry for millionaires who have to play a tough playing schedule, this is me as a fan who believes the league would be stronger with a winter break.
Since its existence the premiership has never had a winter break, whilst Germany, Spain, and France put their feet up for 2 weeks. Now you may argue that it seems to work well with them, the Premiership is hardly suffering without one. I ask, why fix what isn’t broken?
Over the Christmas period, the games come thick and fast, with as many as 5 games played within 15 days. Initially, I will argue this as a fan of the game, for me the onslaught of fixtures over the winter is something I anticipate every year. The excitement of the Boxing Day fixtures whilst eating leftover turkey is simply unmatched. My favourite ever game was played on Boxing Day, a 4-4 draw between Aston Villa and Chelsea, I wouldn’t want to eliminate the chance of seeing that again.
Additionally, another thought, as a fan of the game. Why should these men, whom don’t even work for the full year, and when they do, for just 90 minutes and earn so much money get a rest? The wages that some players earn are simply astonishing, it’s not just a lot of money, it’s a small fortune each week. The majority of premier league players won’t need to work a day in their lives post 40. For all of that I fail to see why we should be deprived winter entertainment, for them to have a break. My parents both work outdoors in physical jobs, they don’t get a break.
However though, when you consider last years champions league in which English teams failed to make the semi finals there is certainly reason to bring up the idea of a break. The teams that did progress might have benefited from a winter break. But I’d say they more so benefited from having the better players. Bar Van Persie, the English teams just didn’t have the world class players, such as Messi, Ronaldo, Robben and Lewandowski. Fatigue didn’t factor too much when the Premier league produced all four of the 2009 champion’s league semi finalists, in Fabregas, Ronaldo, Gerrard and Lampard, England had the better players, they didn’t need the break.
In connection to that, I would counter argue the thinking of England managers past and present, Erikson, Capello and Hodgson that playing over Christmas, is no excuse for the countries poor performance in major competitions, that is a different debate all together, I’ll leave it again, at we aren’t good enough.
I’ve seen one of the major complaints with no winter break is already depleted squads becoming fatigued. It isn’t quite as easy for the clubs down the bottom end of the table and I can empathise. I think there could be other solutions. Clubs could be encouraged to take responsibility of their own player’s fatigue. Teams should ensure players are rested when necessary instead of burning them out until a two week break. As a result of this, more rules could be added to allow young English players are getting some game time.
A final thought I had is a little unconventional compared to my earlier thinking. Should the premiership take a break, the season is likely to last an extra week, maybe two weeks. At that point does it become to long? Playing half way into May is already into the summer. Football gathers so much mainstream media attention during the winter, from the media, papers, ect. Could it lead to our summer sports getting less attention? Possibly not, but I do believe by May, it is time for football to take a bit of a back seat.
In summary, I would refer back to my opening line. Why fix what isn’t broken? It might be a selfish point of view, but I love my Christmas football and don’t want it gone, I’m sure on the money these men earn, they can get through a couple extra games. Poor performance in Europe isn’t down to fatigue, its down to not being as good.