In case you missed it, I made my glorious debut in the Official Arsenal Magazine recently. Not that I like to mention it of course. The subject of my article? Whether a winter break could be implemented successfully on these shores.
At first glance, organising such a hiatus upon the Premier League schedule would be an absolute nightmare for the F.A pen-pushers. We are all familiar with the hectic nature of fixtures in and around the festive period. It is often suggested as the acid test for Championship aspirations, such is the frenetic pace of matches upon the calendar. Seven games of the utmost importance press themselves firmly on our peripheral vision during December. Squad size will play perhaps the biggest part in a performance that could ultimately assign silverware. In a supporting role however, is fitness. Frequently during this run of games the respite is only three days. Take into consideration travel times for away games and the players will need to summon every ounce of spirit they can muster to see them through what is potentially a minefield of injuries.
Whilst our players are running harem-scarem in London derbies and the picturesque Potteries, with nobut a sports nutrition drink to revive flagging energy levels and spirits – some of their national counterparts will be at a poolside bar in some far-flung paradise, a cocktail with a little straw hat replacing the usual Lucozade and weary muscles engaged in nothing more strenuous than a few lackadaisical laps of the luxury pool.
When a player commands wages that would put Greece’s national deficit in the shade, they have a certain responsibility to leave everything on the pitch. Gung-ho for 90minutes. Show the fans who can only dream of such readies and pay a kings ransom to shower adulation on them that they are working hard to achieve. At what point though, do we acknowledge that these players, no matter how fit, would respond better to a system that is already utilized in Germany and Spain?
It is not only superior tactics that have seen Spain and Germany take the spoils over the last few years. On the National stage and the European scene, they have dominated proceedings. The only blip to the depressing pattern being when Chelsea held the Champions League aloft ( no matter how much luck they had ). Seeing as Chelsea finished 6th that season domestically it is safe to assume that this was merely an anomaly. Formations and in-game tactics can only give so much of an advantage when your players are running on fumes. This is where the ‘Winterval’ – if you will – makes its presence felt.
People would bemoan losing the nostalgia of travelling to the stadium on Boxing Day, full of Christmas cheer and leftover turkey. We wouldn’t have to lose this important tradition though.
We all loath the transfer window. It brings out the worst people in social media and sometimes the worst in ourselves as we stave off the negativity and faux reports. A Winterval during January – which only has 5 fixtures compared to December’s 7 – would leave the Christmas football schedule as it is, thus safeguarding memories and reshuffling a ridiculous amount of games. It also allows focus for recruitment and for players to convalesce during a harsh British winter.
On the subject of loathing and hate, another subject that has received our ire and a fair share of ‘stink-eyes’, is interlull’s. The two week break we all suffer when national sides decide to gather and play friendlies that have no relevance other than to pose a more structured training scenario, is comparable to being forced to watch a boxset of ’ Knitting Techniques with Ed Miliband ‘. Time drips by in a torturous nature as we all await the return of our Arsenal. So another break isn’t exactly in high demand.
There comes a threshold though. A point when we must face up to the shortfalls that are exhibited every February to May. If there is anything we can implement that would boost us in our pursuit of glory. It is easily organised and would aid integration with new foreign signings and also inject fresh legs into a flailing squad. I don’t want a break in proceedings just as much as the next fan, but currently, I’d consider horse placenta on toast if it meant more favourable results.