It’s that time of the year in the football season when entertainment meets player welfare – the Christmas football fixtures.
As the fans look forward to this period, the clubs’ management feel the complete opposite.
Jurgen Klopp said just recently, ‘It’s crazy, it was always crazy and will always be. Everything is fine until you reach that Christmas time.’
The congestion of fixtures through the week or so after Christmas is tradition in English football – put simply, fans love it.
As a lot of people enjoy a break from work, they want to watch as much football as possible.
So, as fans love it so do the broadcasters and club financiers.
HAVE YOUR SAY! Is the fixture list too demanding on players this time of year? Comment below
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But on the flipside every physiotherapist and strength & conditioning coach will tell you that players playing two matches within 72 hours increases the chances of injury disproportionately, yet this is what happens through this period.
In fact, the hardest schedules for some clubs, for example Newcastle, require them playing 3 matches in less than 6 days. Since retiring from topflight sport, I can see this argument both ways.
As a player, coach or manager you are paid to get results for the team. Without those good results, you could lose your job; and as a player, you are always concerned about getting a serious injury that risks your career.
During the Christmas fixtures, these issues become heightened and now with Covid, even more so.
When I was playing, all of these points would have also been at the forefront of my mind because all I ever thought about was winning.
That is why it never surprises me to hear the complaints each year from managers and players despite it having been this way for a long time.
Yet, now as a fan, I do see it a little differently.
Just like so many other fans, I am really looking forward to watching lots of football over Christmas with my family and seeing how teams use their squads through this fixture pile up.
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The results from these matches can be pivotal for both the title and relegation at the end of the season and I can see how important Arsenal v Manchester City on the 1st January and Chelsea v Liverpool on the 2nd January are going to be. The build-up through this period to those matches will be huge.
The Premier League has long been heralded as the most entertaining league in the world and the Christmas fixture list is an important part of that.
I understand the concerns of players and managers, I really do, but I can’t see anything changing. The money that is generated in the Premier League pays out huge wages, in fact life-changing wages.
I don’t like using wages as a reason to justify something within football, but I think I can in this context.
The Christmas period is a moment in the season when the line between entertainment and what’s sensible for players goes out the window; but I think that is something that managers and players will just have to accept as part of working in the biggest football league in the world.
When will the Jake Paul roadshow end? With each victory, he calls out an even bigger name! In fairness to Paul, he has been a master promoter of himself.
However, he will meet someone far too good for him at some point. Until then he will just keep enjoying the money he is making!