Friday, June 18, 2021
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The latest football news from 90 Minutes Online

The Winter Break

Winter Break SignWith the Christmas period comes a few things that we expect to see year in year out. Food, gifts, alcohol and unpopular family members will all magically appear in front of you and we’d find it extremely odd if they didn’t. Along with all of the festive cheer comes the inevitable argument about whether football should or should not have a winter break.




Each Christmas and New Year we in this country are spoilt by a near constant football feast. We’re inundated with football in a way we wish we could be all year long. A season would only last about 2 and ½ months, but it would be enjoyable while it did.


But with each passing year we accept a little more foreign influence into our league and with that comes an irritated sideways glance at our fixture list over Christmas. Because, as we hear increasingly often, our Christmas is unique to us. The other big leagues in Europe enjoy a winter break but we don’t. Never have and (as far as many are concerned) never will.


It’s easy to see then why a new manager in our league, like Man United’s Louis van Gaal, would question this. After all, despite his wealth of experience in the game, he’s never come across anything like this before.


LvG isn’t the first to come into the English game and question this trait of actually cramming more games into winter as opposed to having a few weeks off. But these suggestions are starting to come from within England as well. The world is smaller than it has ever been and we can see quite clearly that the rest of the world is doing things differently than us. Did you know, that the main reason that our national team fails on such a regular basis is because they are tired from a long season and that a winter break is the answer to this?


That is what many high ranking officials within the FA, who are in favour of the winter break, would have you believe. Of course to accept this as fact you would have to ignore a few glaringly obvious points. For example how behind the times we are in developing our own players, or how foreign players who play in the Premier League still manage to go on and have successful tournaments in the summer. But I take the point on board, a winter break couldn’t hurt our national team’s chances.


The winter break is also meant to be beneficial for the well being of the players. That is harder to deny, I must admit. Years ago the top flight consisted of 24 teams which meant more games, less rest and the same hectic Christmas period that we are debating today. But the game is not what it was fifty years ago or even fifteen years ago. With each passing year the game gets quicker, players are expected to cover more ground and the game becomes more demanding as a result.


Just because football was ok without a winter break once doesn’t necessarily mean that it is now. Just ask Burnley, who lost three players to injury in the first half of their New Years Day game away at Newcastle. And they weren’t the only ones. Aston Villa, Hull City, Everton, Leicester City, Southampton, Chelsea and Tottenham all lost players due to injury in the first half of their New Years Day games.


It was an exciting day of football where all 20 Premier League clubs played and came up with 33 goals between them. Sunderland came within inches of getting a draw away at Man City before eventually going down 3-2, Leicester and Burnley managed exciting score draws away at Liverpool and Newcastle respectively and Spurs secured a memorable 5-3 home win against London rivals Chelsea.


It was a great day’s entertainment but the casualty list it caused is difficult to ignore. Manchester United have also been left with a few new injuries since as tired legs pick up little pulls and strains.


There seems to be an ample amount of reasons in the ‘for a winter break’ column. Against it? All we really have are our traditions. ‘This is the way we do it, this is the way we’ve always done it, this is the way we always will do it’.


If you are looking to sit on the fence, then this is the argument you are looking for:


Let’s just have the winter break in early January. That way we get to keep our footballing Christmas traditions whilst also enjoying the benefits of the break.


Maybe that is the way forward. It would lead to us extending the season which then in turn brings its own problems. But you can’t please everyone.



Take a look North. It may have escaped your attention that Celtic played in the SPL on Monday and won’t have another league fixture until the 17th. They managed to play over Christmas and enjoy the winter break. As the game continues to become more demanding the need for a winter break may become undeniable. And this just may be the way to do it.

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