The dust is beginning to settle on another tournament disappointment involving England. The under-21s have crashed out of the 2015 European Championships, finishing bottom of the group having been beaten by their Italian and Portuguese counterparts.
It could be argued that this age group is very important if the aim of FA Chairman Greg Dyke of winning a World Cup by 2022 is to be realised; after all, these players should be at their peak of their powers by the time that the rather controversial World Cup in Qatar comes round.
Considering the incredible revelation that FIFA in the Sepp Blatter has toxic corruption and greed running through its veins (who knew?), with Qatar at the very centre of it, it would be quite something if that World Cup was to instigate change in English football.
Apart of the allegations of bribery, the biggest talking point about Qatar is the potential for the first ever World Cup held in the winter. Whilst there’s inevitable outrage of how it would affect the European football calendar, perhaps it would finally bring English football in line with its continental equivalents.
The debate over a winter break has been had, but perhaps the World Cup forcing the Premier League to stop for six weeks could finally means action rather than words.
It would stop a well-trotted line about players coming to the tournament as ‘tired’; it does seem like an excuse, but perhaps there is an element of truth to it. Considering the 139 representatives of English football across the 32 nations at the 2014 World Cup, there were no real impressive performers.
Of those who did impress having come from British shores to Brazil, think who did do well; Robin Van Persie, Andre Schürrle and Mesut Özil were some of the better performers, but they all struggled for game time in the season leading up to the World Cup, whether through injury or, in Schürrle’s case, lack of game time. Luis Suarez benefitted through an enforced break, too.
The players who were regulars in the Premier League leading up to the World Cup, including the dismal England performance, did look shattered; stars like David Silva and Eden Hazard were well under par compared to the star turns in the Premier League.
But a winter break would benefit the Premier League itself, too. Considering how strongly Diego Costa, Alexis Sanchez and Cesc Fabregas had started in the first half of 14/15, the second half shows a drop in form and fitness.
Costa and Fabregas’ club manager, Jose Mourinho, also acknowledged how the Premier League was the toughest when discussing Chelsea’s chances of winning the quadruple, but with a winter break that goal would perhaps become more realistic.
A month break over January would be an ideal chance for Premier League clubs to have a breather to make decisions. After 19 games, a break in January would be a chance to conduct transfer business without games going on; no longer would rash decisions be made in the aftermath of games.
If chairmen and sporting directors suddenly stopped deciding they needed new left-backs on the basis of one poor game, the same could be argued for managers; how many times have managers been sacked either after being given too little time to turn things round, or in Chris Hughton’s case at Norwich, too long?
A break to stop and assess the first half of the season would help that; for the amount of money that washes around in English football, an awful lot is frivolously wasted on snap decisions.
Critics of a winter break say it would stop tradition, which is understandable; many people first look for who they play on Boxing Day, and many more get excited over the third round of the FA Cup too.
That would obviously need a rethink, what with the incredible three cup competitions clubs in League One and Two get through, but why does there need to be three cup competitions in the first place? Compared to the FA Cup, the Capital One Cup is treated with far less romance anyway.
Of course a winter break would not help to overcome the drastic problems within coaching or the lack of English young players in the Premier League, but it could be a start.
For far too long, the arrogance of ‘the English game’ has stopped change and progress; whilst the likes of Di Maria and Radamel Falcao are branded ‘not good enough’ for the Premier League despite looking world class elsewhere, in reality British football is one long slog that just exhausts players.
But a winter break would be a start, a first big step. And besides, who really enjoys watching a 0-0 in the freezing cold of January?
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