We all like a couple of weeks off work don’t we? Time to kick back, do sod all and have a few beers; time to de-stress your self from the daily grind. Yeah, we all need a holiday from time to time.
However, we work for a living and damn hard too. Well I don’t, I just sit at a computer which ain’t exactly hacking coal out the ground, but you may well do. This contrasts sharply to a footballer who really only has a part time job. Three hours a week plus a couple of hours a day training and that’s your lot. The rest of the time is yours to shop for large watches, expensive trousers and fake blonde ladies.
So when the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson call for a two week winter break for players to give them time to recover from injuries, arguing it would make them fresher for summer tournaments, it makes no sense to me at all.
Almost no top flight player goes a whole season without either having a minor or major injury which puts them out for a week or two or a month or two. That’s some rest, right there.
On top of that many get rested by management for League Cup games or less important league games. More rest for the weary super-fit athlete.
So by the time January comes around – many players – especially the most important internationals have not played four months of solid football, they’ve frequently had at least a few weeks off. How rested do they want to be?
For those that have played constantly, if they’re tired or carrying injuries, it’s for the management to rest or recuperate them. That’s why they have a squad, surely.
If there was a two week break, would it really make that much difference? Is 14 days without playing football in January really going to make England defenders take proper positions in June? Is it really going to make players with poor ball control better at controlling it six months after the break? It is surely a spurious notion.
Let’s not forget players have the very best medical and physio available to them on tap 24/7. They play on carpet-like pitches most of the time; they are given perfect diets and training regimes. Life is as easy as possible for them. And if that wasn’t enough, this year they had a full month away from competitive games to prepare for the World Cup. How much more time off do they need so they can get totally fit?
Advocates point to how the winter break benefits the likes of Germany and Spain in tournaments. However, when you look at the total amount of games their squads had played throughout the season and compared it to England’s they were very similar. Iniesta played 42 games for Barcelona last season, Gareth Barry played just 38 but was still much, much worse than Iniesta. This isn’t because he’s tired through not having a winter break, it’s because he’s much, much worse a player. Period. Resting for two weeks in January will not change that.
It’s easy to point to other successful countries and think that a winter break is a silver bullet that would save England but it is pure delusion. Our players are not tired, they are just not good enough and no amount of rest will cure that.