As the Christmas bells jingle louder the inevitable grumblings escape from top flight changing rooms, bemoaning the lack of the winter break.
Antonio Conte, Jose Mourinho and co are left frustrated as their squads are put through a gruelling winter schedule.
So should we have a winter break in England ? Does the Europe wide winter break give an advantage in the Champions League over english teams ?
In England we have two domestic cups, which immediately means more games for the top sides, the last 3 winners of the Champions league have been from leagues where there is only one domestic cup competition coupled with a winter break. Coincidence ?
Managers complain about the injury risk that puts on their players and their inability to properly prepare for a 3 high intensity matches in 12 days. The premier league is billed as the highest intensity league in Europe, and therefore the lack of a mid season break can leave the players tired mentally and physically. The English national teams lack of success has even been linked to the players, most of which play domestically not having a mid season break.
The most recurrent injury in the 2016/17 was the hamstring injury- an injury linked to fatigue, with 150 occurences which led to a combined 4165 days out of action. Its no surprise Arsenal topped the injury charts last season with 71 injury’s in total last season.
Perhaps most damning, last season the most injury’s occurred in the months of December and January with 113 and 143 respectively. This follows the trend of recent years, which in the previous three Premier League seasons saw either December or January as the highest month for injury’s.
However with so many points available in such a short space of time the winter portion of the premier league can make or break a title challenge, winter has come and we will see who will be left standing holding the door firmly shut against all challenge.
Personally I don’t disagree there is a need for a winter break, however I feel the influence is grossly overstated. The European elite do better in the Champions League not because they have a couple weeks more rest, and it is lazy to claim so. For starters the Bayern’s and Madrid’s actually recruit players they need, suited to their football ideology. There are far too many top clubs in England with senseless recruitment and massive amounts of deadwood on the books. Im sorry but resting Ashley Young, Rashford, Lukaku and even Pogba isn’t going to make much of a difference going up against Benzema, Isco and Ronaldo.
Secondly managers in the premier league often exacerbate the problem with poor rotation, a key part of being a top class manager is the ability to adapt to situations and to rotate accordingly. At Chelsea Cesar Azpilicueta has played every single premier league game under Conte, whilst this is a testament to Azpi’s commitment it shows the lack of rotation in the squad. Conte claims he ‘trusts’ his players in every press conference as if he is trying to convince himself before us. Mourinho insists on playing Pogba to the death, and Klopp’s players are constantly breaking down.
For me this is poor management, the whole point of a back up or squad player is that they are ready to step in and are of the required quality. Unfortunately many times managers change their entire formation or tactic to accommodate the loss of one player rather than having one available suitable or ready to step in. Whose job is it to make sure all the players in the squad are of sufficient quality and are mentally and physically ready to step in should there be need for rotation ? Not the FA.
Its also worth noting that France reached the final of the euros with 11 english based players in their squad, so the fatigue doesn’t seem to affect other nations.
Should there be a winter break ? Who are the real winners of the winter season ? The chasing pack or the title favourites ? Have your say #touchlinefracas