For fans, the Christmas footie fixture list is as traditional as Christmas pud itself. Yet for those involved with the game it can leave you with mixed feelings; I’ve enviously watched my family indulge endless amounts of turkey and wine year after year, whilst I snub all these treats in preparation for a forthcoming game. Not this year, though. Thanks to the French league I get to properly enjoy Christmas this year, too.
I haven’t properly celebrated Christmas since my early teens, I understand my priorities within the game and that goes for all the players, even the foreign guys who don’t get to see their family at Christmas – you have to make these sacrifices if you want to succeed in the Prem, naturally. Christmas becomes just another busy schedule in the football calendar.
The debate rolls on, for some
The debate surrounding a festive break comes full circle every year, managers plead with the Premier League to which I can understand, players take knocks and begin to pick up strains this time of year. Of course a couple of weeks break would benefit the whole squad. Both Alex Ferguson and Roy Hodgson continually voice their support for a break and rightly so, if you compare the Premier League to rest of Europe.
Look at the Germans, they’re granted a five-week break and although I’m not advocating such a lengthy break, is it apiece of the puzzle for our own national team’s performance? It might seem a little naïve but it does beg the question – after all, the Germans always perform at the major tournaments.
National team performance
Many of the guys who played in this year’s Euro’s were physically drained towards the end of the tournament. The elite players are the ones who very likely endure the European nights, two cups with replays, as well as the 38 game domestic season, then they head straight into a summer tournament. And although Italy were a better footballing side, England’s heavy legs were evident throughout their performance last summer.
Now, I’m not claiming the festive break can become a magic wand for England, there are many more reasons why we struggle, but you do question it, right? Portugal are the only other league who continue to play and they again possess a team of great talent who continually struggle towards the latter stages of a tournament.
The Premier League snubs the festive period and with solid reasoning. The revenue made in TV deals over the Christmas is pumped back into the clubs, to support their spending, which in turn brings in the best players from all over the globe – providing entertainment for the fans. So why would they change all that just for the sake of the national team?
And I’m like every other football fan, I dream of England lifting the World Cup within my lifetime, but that idea’s just not feasible. There’d only be one winner if the Premier League took a festive break and that’d be the national team. Not from a performance standpoint either, it’s purely for the players involved with the festive break.
Which would you prefer though? I mean, as a fan, the Christmas footie period remains a great watch, the fans seem to really come together, there’s a real sense of family between everyone involved, you can’t beat that.
Luckily for me this time around, the French league is enabling me to be one of those fans, enjoying Prem football with you all and having an overdue Christmas dinner. It’ll be my first Christmas out of the Prem since I started out at Manchester City and as much as I’ll miss the banter in the dressing room, the atmosphere in the stadium, I’m going to embrace it, you can’t begrudge a Dad for spending it with his son’s first-ever Christmas, can you? That said, whilst I’m glued to the TV watching every game, there’ll no doubt be a part of me wishing I was playing too.
Now it’s your turn, imagine the festive footie calendar had been removed for next week’s fixtures. Would this have an affect an annual tradition? Or, would you be up for it to see if it really did improve England’s international fortunes? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
Oh, and one last thing… Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.