BROWNE ON THE BALL: Would mid-season break mean winter of discontent?

IT’S a question that keeps on being asked. And more often than not, the answer is the same.

Ask most of the top player’s in the Premier League why they believe the England team fails at the big tournaments and they won’t reel out answers such as ‘because we let the manager with the best percentage win-rate slip through our fingers four months before the Euros’.

Nope, they’ll state it’s because we don’t have a winter break.

The majority top of England internationals who have answered this question believe a mid-season hiatus would be the perfect way to recharge the batteries and overcome injuries.

England managers agree.

Some top overseas players who fail to do their homework before joining a club over here (Rafael van der Vaart and Robinho, to name two) have expressed their disdain that the league fixtures don’t have a pause in late December.

But more often than not, those championing the winter break get a little caught out when they describe it as the Christmas break. No matter how firmly they believe in this, it sounds like they actually just want a few days off so they can join us normal people in stuffing our faces and getting sloshed on mulled wine and sloe gin.

For fans a winter break divides opinion. Some are all for it so they don’t have to miss the big derby matches because they’re away visiting the missus’ granddad in Droitwich.

To others, a Boxing Day defeat to Gainsborough or a New Year’s Day draw at Eastwood is as traditional as turkey, mince pies and that Mariah Carey song and they wouldn’t wish it any other way. But the worrying thing is that were this break ever to come into effect, it would surely be over the Christmas and New Year period.

The problem? Well, in recent years we have had (at non-league level, at least) a number of postponements around late January and early February.

With a winter break, non-leaguers would more than likely follow suit and, if we had post-break postponements to the scale we’ve seen this season, then the matches needing to be re-arranged will be piled higher than Tony Pulis’ fanmail this week.

Since the new year, Boston United have had two matches postponed. Boston Town have had five.

With semi-professional footballers often needing time off work to play midweek games, unavailabilities may rise and teams could be struggling to get a side together for a Tuesday in Workington. The flipside is cramming more games into the start of the season, just in case we get hit with a cold snap.

Neither of these help give a balanced look to league tables come the end of the campaign.

Oh well, at least we’ll definitely win the World Cup.