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Friday, 12 July, 2002, 12:51 GMT 13:51 UK
Football needs a rest
Robert Pires is stretchered off after suffering cruciate ligament damage
Robert Pires' injury was blamed on fixture intensity

Injuries to Liverpool's Steven Gerrard and also Arsenal's Robert Pires as well as some tired performances in the World Cup have brought renewed calls for the introduction of a winter break in England.

All the major European leagues all enjoy a mid-season interlude.

Spain and Italy knock off for a fortnight over the Christmas period, while Germany and France have a month-long interlude around the same time.


We have to consider how to get the best out of the product
Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein

But Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier and Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein have suggested keeping the popular festive programme and then breaking for three weeks in January.

That would probably mean the season would start earlier and also finish later.

BBC Sport Online asks some of the game's participants whether it is time for a mid-season break.


The player's view

Liverpool's Veggard Heggem

"I'm in favour of a break as players are being asked to compete in too many games.

"It's just too hard to play from August to May.

"The body can't cope with that amount of the games, especially as football is now so physical and quick.

"The body needs time to recover and I think certain injuries - particularly knee and muscle injuries - are associated with overplaying.

"I know managers can rotate their squads, but if you're a player then you want to be involved in every game.

"The winter break would be good for the players but I also think it would be good for the fans because there would be an improvement in the quality of the game.

Liverpool's Steven Gerrard limps out the club's final game of the season against Ipswich after suffering a recurrence of a groin injury
Gerrard's groin problem ruled him out of World Cup

"When I was at Rosenborg in Norway we had a long pre-season from January to April and that gave us a lot of time to prepare.

"It's a good foundation for the season because you have time to work on strength and endurance.

"Of course in Norway there are also only 14 teams in the league."


The coach's view

FA coach Stuart Baxter, who has managed in Norway, Japan and Sweden, is part of Sven-Goran Eriksson's support team.

"It's not so much the physical rest as the mental rest that a winter break would allow as it gives players and coaches the time to take their foot off the accelerator.

"It means you can disapper for four days and you don't have to think about football.

"England is talked about being the toughest league in the world.

"That's debatable in terms of the level of quality, but there's no doubt that England the most mentally and physically demanding league in the world.

  Premiership workaholics
1 Liverpool's John Arne Riise -52 Premiership and Champions League games
2 Liverpool's Stephane Henchoz - 51 games
3 Liverpool's Sami Hyypia - 50 games
4 Liverpool's Danny Murphy - 50 games
5 Liverpool's Emile Heskey - 49 games
6 Man Utd's Paul Scholes - 48 games

"That's primarily to do with mental exhaustion.

"If you're mentally tired then you're physically tired. You can't separate the two.

"If you wake up in the morning and feel tired, you don't wake up with a smile on your face, but instead think, 'Christ, I'm knackered.

"And when you're mentally tired you're not resilient, explosive and creative.

"Coaches and players are always teetering on the brink. You can work on recuperation and nutrition, but that's skirting around the main issues.


The fan's view

Independent Manchester United Supporters Association chairman Mark Longden

"It's a good idea, but the authorities also might address the need for a decent summer break, which seems to have disappeared altogether.

"Players aren't given enough time off in the summer and the idea of a winter break would erode the amount of rest they get at the end of the season.

Possibly the most famously strapped thigh of Zinedine Zidane during the 2000 World Cup
Zidane's thigh suffered despite having a break

"From a personal point of view I would not be concerned that I wouldn't be able to watch football during January.

"It's not the best time to be travelling is it?

"I would have to see the nuts and bolts of the proposal but just as important is the need to reduce the number of the teams in the Premiership to 18."


The money man's view

Arsenal's vice-chairman David Dein

"We have to consider how to get the best out of the product.

Joe Cole together with Steve McClaren
Joe Cole is all played out after a long season

"There should be something like a three-week break, which would give the players an opportunity to go off somewhere on holiday for a couple of weeks.

"It will be good for everyone whether they be managers, players or fans; it will be good for the game as a product."

 VOTE RESULTS
Does the Premiership need a winter break?

Yes
 67.61% 

No
 32.39% 

9301 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

English Premiership news
Latest top-flight news

See also:

24 Jun 02 | Other News
28 Jun 02 | Liverpool
22 Jun 02 | England
Links to more Eng Prem stories are at the foot of the page.


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