Premier League clubs will have their first winter break in February - but how long will players get off and what impact will it have?
won’t be involved in the replay with Shrewsbury. “That’s what the winter break is about and then another competition tells us it’s not that important. So we have to make this decision because the boys have families.”
Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho was also frustrated to see his side’s workload increased after drawing with Southampton and Saints’ boss Ralph Hasenhuttl revealed his side’s warm-weather break will now be cancelled. Newcastle have also cancelled their winter break plans.
“Now we have a replay in our winter break and that doesn’t make sense for me,” Hasenhuttl said. “This game deserved to have a winner or a loser. It was so intense, it was exciting for the fans and that is what a cup game should be about.”
The FA Cup fifth round will be played in midweek to accommodate the February break and replays have been scrapped from that stage onwards, with ties decided by extra-time and penalties on the day if there are draws.
How big a change is this break?
The change is not so dramatic. Everton, Newcastle, Crystal Palace, West Ham and Watford each had breaks of at least 13 days between games last February.
Aside from the teams involved in FA Cup fourth-round replays, clubs with a break will still need to train for the second game so it is not a full fortnight of rest either.
Where are clubs going and what are they doing?
Teams on a break from league action are allowed to travel abroad for training camps. However, money-making tours in the US or Far East will not be accepted.
The majority, though, have opted to allow their players their own individual holiday followed by training sessions at the club’s usual training ground. That’s the format Liverpool and Manchester City are going with, while at Chelsea Frank Lampard is giving his players free time in the early part of the fortnight before a ‘mini pre-season’ at Cobham.
Manchester United had planned to get away to a warm-weather camp in the Middle East – but tensions in the region have forced a rethink – while Sheffield United will be travelling to Dubai.
Will it help England?
This is a key question. The feeling is that this can help England at Euro 2020. Many former England managers have argued for this.
The constant grind of Premier League football, famous for its intensity, is wearing on players, particularly over Christmas. This would allow them some respite after that hectic period.
Winter breaks happen elsewhere. Scotland have a 19-day break. The Bundesliga gets the best part of a month off. France has 24 days, Spain has 18 days and Italy get 16 days.
The argument is that this gives them a competitive advantage but current boss Gareth Southgate is more philosophical about it and is not so convinced it will make a huge difference.
Who supported the idea of a winter break?
There have been consistent calls for a mid-season breather for the past decade, with former England managers Sven-Goran Eriksson and Fabio Capello both making their support for a break clear while in charge of the national team.