No Winter Break Means No World Cup Success
Monday, 29th Jan 2018 09:30
It’s a hot topic (or perhaps ‘cold’ would describe it better) that polarizes fans here in England: the winter break. Do we need one? Can we live without Christmas footie? And most importantly, does it affect our national side’s chances in the big tournaments?
The arguments against a winter break are many, but the main one that keeps popping up in every conversation on the topic is Christmas football. Yet, what many fans don’t seem to realise is that a winter break won’t necessarily affect the festive football. Who’s to say that we can’t start the winter break the day after boxing day? Sure, we’d miss out on New Year matches, but in the grand scheme of things, a little compromise wouldn’t be too hard on the fans, would it?
Take the Germans, for example. The Bundesliga winter break runs for about three to four weeks from the week before Christmas to late January. The benefits of this extended break are there for all to see. The last World Cup aside (which they obviously won), they play relatively well in every major tournament and progress to at least the quarters or semis. And when they lose, it’s often a simple matter of coming up against a superior team.
The English side, on the other hand, often look jaded and worn out by the time the final group stage game rolls around. And it’s no wonder. With foreign-based players being few and far between, every two years the national squad faces a grueling season culminating in a major international tournament. For many players who haven’t missed time due to injury, the season will run for almost twelve months. That’s a year of football once or twice a week without any break at all. And then we wonder why they don’t do well in tournaments.
If we take a look at the teams who usually outperform us in international tournaments, they all have one thing in common: a winter break. Players in France, Holland, Germany, Spain, Italy, and even Portugal, all benefit from at least 2-3 weeks off, giving them plenty of time to rest and recover. It’s certainly something to take note of.
Many of us here in England believe that our national side underachieves on the biggest stage. They breeze through the qualifying campaign, then drop out of the tournament with barely a whimper. But perhaps we should look at it another way. All those times that we went out on penalties or made it as far as the semis, perhaps our side was actually overachieving, considering the long hard season they had just been through.
The fact is that until we give our players a break, we'll never taste success at the biggest tournaments. We might as well watch the Six Nations. At least we'll have a chance of experiencing some national pride. After all, Six Nations odds have England as the firm favourites, a position the football team hasn't been in since 1996.
The Premier League and FA have admitted that they are open to the idea of a winter break, while the managers would love nothing more than a chance to rest the team. And as for the players themselves, they’d surely love a few weeks off. And here’s an idea: Why not make the January transfer window and the winter breaks coincide? This would make transfers so much easier and remove the distraction of a possible move when games need to be played. It’s just a thought, but—you have to admit—it’s pretty good one. Even if that doesn’t happen, it’s as clear as day that the national side are under immense pressure. Give the lads a winter break, and only then would we have the right to criticize them for their performances on the biggest stage.
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