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Winter Break


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As a fan do you want to see the introduction of a winter break?  

  1. 1. As a fan do you want to see the introduction of a winter break?

    • Yes
    • No


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Your opinions? Me, no. I am selfish, I pay their wages and I would like myself to be nicely entertained at this time.

 

The Guardian

 

As Europe rests, the Brits rush

 

Bayern Munich are resting in Dubai, Milan are in Malta and Inter are in Bahrain. So why are English clubs still playing?

Amy Lawrence

January 6, 2007 11:30 PM

 

Andriy Shevchenko has just been publicly panned by his manager Jose Mourinho and been described by the former Chelsea striker Tony Cascarino as possibly the biggest flop in Premiership history. So it would be understandable if he were pining for the happy old days of Milan - particularly if any of his old friends happened to get in touch with him. They are in Malta at the moment, training on the beach in the sunshine.

 

Having had some time off to relax with their families and clear their heads of the pressures of constant football, Milan's players are on phase two of their winter break, where they top up fitness levels and work on team bonding.

 

Milan's athletic coach, Daniele Tognaccini, cannot speak highly enough of the benefits of this annual breather. 'Working in the warm weather has benefits for muscles. It's also good for the players' well-being. A lot of them needed a rest during the vacation and we are pleased they were able to do that. To get Milan in top condition, we will work continuously from January through to May. In January we won't be on top of our brilliance, but I think that we will be for the double encounter against Celtic in February.'

 

Of the 16 teams due to get back to Champions League business next month, 11 have had - and the lucky ones are still having - a winter break. And then there are the Brits, who are slogging their way through their most intensive period of the season in inclement weather with some predictable consequences. Is it any surprise Chelsea lost points and players over Christmas? Can Manchester United keep everybody fresh for the next five months after all they have given in the first half of the campaign? Are Arsenal and Liverpool ever going to mount challenges at home and abroad simultaneously as they so crave? Will Celtic be robust enough to overcome a Milan side that will surely be livelier than they were pre-Christmas?

 

Bayern Munich are in Dubai, Inter have gone to Bahrain. Lille, who play Manchester United in the knock-out phase, have stayed closer to home and enjoyed bike rides and basketball.

 

Even those clubs who have not plumped for warm weather training give their players time off to get away from it all. Hence Lyon's band of Brazilians - Juninho, Fred, Cris and Capaca - were able to return to South America. Barcelona's chief inspiration Ronaldinho went home to open a sport and education institute in Porto Alegre. Real Madrid's Robinho played in a charity match back home against Romario - every spectator had to donate one kilo of non-perishable food to get a ticket.

 

A little nourishment for the soul is hugely beneficial midway through the season - particularly after a World Cup year. Bayern Munich's manager Felix Magath thinks this period to rehabilitate mind and body is imperative: 'Our troubled pre-season period, coupled with the extra burden of the World Cup in July, definitely caused all the significant problems we've had up to now. Now we can try a few things out. I'm convinced we'll hit on a formation that plays a great deal better than we have so far.'

 

If all other countries in Europe see value in putting the competition on hold, they cannot all be wrong. Managers of the Premiership's establishment clubs are virtually unified in their backing for a winter break, but their pleas have always been ignored.

 

The reasons are simple enough: money, money and more money. Any respite from our programme would require the Premiership to be cut to 18 clubs. Naturally all clubs who flirt with relegation will not be voting for it. Even for the stronger clubs, potential revenue from an extra four matches is not to be sniffed at.

 

Scotland, who experimented with a break for four seasons from 1998-99, have binned it. As Gordon Strachan points out, 'The cash-flow is the problem, I don't think a lot of clubs could do without the cash flow. But I would like it. If you asked most managers and physios, there are a lot of niggling injuries at this time, especially with the rain we have had recently. A nice break would be handy for everybody.'

 

Opponents of the idea point out that English clubs have reached the finals for the past two seasons. However, Liverpool, in 2005, and Arsenal, in 2006, jeopardised their league position in doing so. Both were fortunate to squeeze back into Europe's premier competition.

 

The English contingent are currently among the favourites to win the Champions League, but they will do well to have the legs to go the distance.

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No. Although its better for the players, it just wouldnt be the same not having matches on boxing day.

 

They need to do away with international friendlies aswell, i hate the way it disrupts the league, I can cope with it at the moment but i wouldnt like it to get like Rugby, where its almost impossible to follow.

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Guest Zenith

It's be shit, the best part of the season is the winter period, crackin' banter in the stands and the table begins to take shape.

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Not during Christmas. What else is there to boxing day? Maybe the last two weeks of January or something, but that wouldn't work with the European cups, would it? So no. The players could use some rest sometime during the season, though.

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