Premier League clubs thriving in Europe proves that calls for a winter break are nonsense

Andy Dillon by Andy Dillon / 09 April 2019, 15:50

Mauricio Pochettino talks the most sense when it comes to the prickly subject of a winter break.

Tottenham’s manager suffers like any other top boss at a leading Premier League team when the season reaches its business end and he is counting the aching limbs and bruised joints.

Yet an Argentine seems to grasp English culture better than anyone when he acknowledges that two weeks off after Christmas is not really us.

And now he is being backed up by the simple maths which proves that the rigours of English football do not weigh down on our clubs like anchors when it comes to European competition.

Starting tonight, six of our best teams will be playing for places in the semi finals their respective tournaments: Pochettino’s Spurs, Manchester City, Man Utd, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea all feature in big matches this week.

Only Burnley have fallen by the wayside. So six out of seven teams remain - roughly an 84 per cent survival rate.

And all of this while still forcing our overworked players to keep plugging away over Christmas, through the new year and now into April.

Pochettino often gripes like his peers about fixture congestion. He blamed Tottenham’s exit from The FA Cup at the hands of Crystal Palace for that very issue this season.

Yet he is honest enough to concede that the period between Boxing Day and fourth round of the Cup at the end of January is one of the most colourful phases of our domestic season. And he sees no reason for it to change.

England is the only major football nation which doesn’t down tools in deepest winter.

Former UEFA president Michel Platini once claimed that English players are like lions in winter and lambs in spring - cocking his nose in the air at the unsophisticated and uncouth way in which we structure football.

There’s not a single French team left in Europe now even though ‘les jouers’ get a handy break of more than a week over the Festive period.

The proposed winter break in England next season will give players some welcome downtime but on this season’s showing how will it help improve our standing in European competitions?

Half the field in the last eight of the Champions League this season comes from these shores.

Three of the four semi finalists in 2007 did also. Manchester United won it a year later in an all-English final against Chelsea. There was no winter break then.

Just two weeks ago Chelsea’s current manager Maurizio Sarri recorded an 8-0 win over Dynamo Kiev in the Europa League - the diplomatic Italian admitted afterwards that his side’s emphatic victory was aided by the fact that the Ukrainians were only just returning to action following...a three week winter break!

He admitted the opposition were rusty and therefore not up to speed and consequently steamrollered by his team which is fully in the swing of the action.

Sometimes problems can be over analysed; especially in football, which is fundamentally a straightforward game.

The reason there has not been an English champion of Europe since Chelsea in 2012 is that the competition is extremely hard to win and our teams have simply not been good enough.

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Dean Keates
Dean Keates
(Walsall)
6th April
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