Is the lack of a winter break the reason we have struggled in European football this season?
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes that the winter break is why we stand on the verge of an all-German Champion’s League final at Wembley next month. The argument goes that because the two teams got a chance to rest for five weeks, and so did not have to play a large number of games in quick succession in cold winter weather, they have that little bit more left in the tank to get them over the finish line know.
There have been suggestions as well that this has an impact on the fate of the World Cup and European Championships, and explains why the England team consistently fail to deliver. Both of these points mean that there have been consistent calls for a winter break to be introduced in the Premiership.
However the evidence shows that the winter break argument is simply without basis.
Firstly, English teams have done just fine in the Champions League/European Cup over the last 35 years without having one. How does Wenger explain why English teams got to the semi-finals and the final in every year between 2005 and 2012 apart from 2010 without having had a winter break? Also, if a winter break is such a good idea, why have German teams only won the Champions League twice in the last two decades?
When you examine the evidence it is clear that the winter break is not why German football would appear to be in the ascendancy. Other countries with winter breaks have done better than them in the Champions League in the last twenty years, such as Italy, and others with winter breaks such as France have barely had an impact on the Champions League in the last ten years.
Secondly, there are other points that Wenger chooses to ignore. One is the four fewer games that Bundesliga teams have to play. Second is the fact that Germany only has one domestic cup competition. These factors will definitely have left Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund in better shape than the English teams.
The impact of TV money on the English game means that either reducing the size of the Premiership or abolishing the League Cup would be out of the question. In fact the impact of Sky means that a winter break is also out of the question.
Thirdly, it is insulting to fans to suggest that footballers need a winter break. Is it really so much to ask that this group of millionaires should have to work throughout the winter, just like their supporters? Footballers earn a large amount of money in comparison to the hours they have to work, so they should be able to play a full schedule over Christmas and the New Year and still be able to give their all at the business end of the season.
What are your thoughts? Winter break or no winter break?
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