If England crash out of the World Cup (again), and they look tired doing it (again), we will hear the question we have been hearing for near a decade....should the Premier League follow the example of many top European Leagues and have a Winter break?
Spain, Italy, Germany and France all incorporate winter breaks into their schedule. It allows the players a physical and mental rest before the second half of the season, allowing them to recharge their batteries. That's fantastic for the club sides as they get fresher players, but the real value is felt when an international tournament rears its head in the Summer. After a gruelling domestic season, having to play a number of games in a short span is not ideal.
Most leagues will break for a month, in Germany they often finish their last game before Christmas around the 13th-15th and then won't play again until late January, often the 18th-20th. That's nearly a month for players to go home, celebrate the festive period with their family and friends and then come back fresher for it.
Some teams will allow the players a week or so off, but then hold training camps in exotic locations, Bayern Munich are known to do this frequently. There is a big difference between training and playing a highly competitive game.
So why do we not have a Winter break? money! the EPL generates a ton of revenue, especially over the festive period where we see more games than ever. Now with Sky Sports being challenged by BT Sport, the rights and revenue are set to rise. However if you offered a the players and managers of the EPL a break....how many do you think would turn you down? I'm willing to bet not many.
Teams with bigger squads will always have an advantage over the Christmas period. The likes of Norwich, Cardiff and others rely on 12-14 players throughout the season, then the drop off from there is noticeable. Where as teams like Arsenal, Chelsea, Man City and Man United could field two competitive sets of 11 players and be comfortable.
I really don't know what it will take to gain a winter break, I enjoy the football over the festive period, but I'd like to test it in a World Cup or European Championship year just to see if it made a big difference. Of the main European leagues, Spain, Italy and Germany have all had international success recently. Is that the reason? or are we just making excuses for our poor performances?