Every year the debate over whether or not English football should adopt a winter break rears its head.
However, I can say with a good deal of certainty that it would not improve our national team’s performance or solve niggling injury problems which occur towards the end of the season, not to mention the fact that it would take away what is, for me, one of the highlights of the English football calendar – the Boxing Day fixture.
It has been claimed that our national team fails at international tournaments because we don’t have a winter break. Do me a favour.
Yes, other countries including world and European champions Spain have a winter break. But their’s lasts less than two weeks – is this really going to make a difference?
England’s tournament failures are down to problems much deeper than fatigue. Unfortunately this column does not give me enough space to explain deep-rooted problems in the England team. But, in brief, problems with player development at a young age, poor tactics and, simply, an inability to keep possession are all more important factors than fatigue.
At club level, the size of squads these days is so large, allowing managers to rotate their players to keep them fresh.
And with the commercial side of the game so prevalent today, it is a nailed-on certainty that teams would go flying out to Asia, the Middle East and the United States to play games and promote their brand and, in doing so, contradict the reasons behind the winter break.
Then there are the logistical problems. A further backlog of fixtures in the second half of the season would be created or otherwise, the close season would have to be shortened and the season would last a month longer than the current one – which would undoubtedly be worse for fatigue problems.
If fatigue really is a problem, the only answer is to reduce the size of the Premier League to 18 teams.
While it has many proponents within the game, the belief that a winter break would be a quick fix to many deep-rooted problems just shows sheer naivety.