Saturday, January 05, 2008

Don't even consider a winter break


Don't even consider a winter break


The start of a new year should have ushered in new wishes but it seems some old ones still remain. Like wishing for a winter break for example.

Let me get this straight: there should not and never will be a winter break or any other break in the Barclays Premier League. The top league in England is the best in the world the way it was, the way it is and the way it is going to be.

So I do not understand why some managers want to break a tradition that has been in place for decades. This is something that goes feet-to-feet with our English game; our identity. The atmosphere and the support from your home crowd don't get any better than any one I have encountered. It's extra special.

Also, footballers' careers are way too short - 10 to 15 years as a professional - why do we need a break? I, for one, think this is the best time to play football.

Fixture congestion? Look after yourself after training and don't look for any extra nonsense. You will be just fine. Cold weather? Just keep running and running. You'll get warmed up in no time.

And even if you really want to celebrate Christmas or the New Year, do it in June or July. For me, it is football before family; the club before anything else. I never thought of celebrating the holidays. It is just in the blood of footballers to carry on.

Even if they are given a break, what do clubs do? Most of the time, the clubs will send their players to exotic places to play meaningless friendlies. Ironic, isn't it?

And what about the football fans? Will this break sell them short? The festive period is a perfect time for them to sit down and concentrate on the game without bothering about the return trip home. I can't imagine what they will do if there's no football.

So no dissenting voices are ever going to change our tradition. If they complain so much, they should just return to Italy, Spain or Germany. They can jolly well go because it will never change here.

One of the few mysteries of Rafael Benitez's team selection has been Harry Kewell. He has become a regular in the team after recovering from successive injuries in October.

His form has been average, I expected more from him. He seems to be working hard to prove himself as his contract is up at the end of the season.

I have to say the Australian winger has not been value for money since his move from Leeds United.

Well, it seems he is the best we have got considering the options we have.

But I guess this is one of the last things on Rafa's mind now that the transfer window has reopened. What happens this month will indicate how much faith the American owners have in Rafa and vice versa. We will have to wait and see.

My hunch is that Liverpool will go for a centre-back and fast! I reckon Rafa will eventually opt to go to Spain or Italy to get a bargain player in the mould of Alvaro Arbeloa.

It would be good for Liverpool to get local players as they will need much less time to adapt to a foreign league. But I think this is very unlikely.

Also, young defender Jack Hobbs has been tried sparingly but has yet to impress. He is not ready for the first team, this boy.

Well, we can only hope for better in the New Year. Have a great one.

Former Liverpool and England midfielder Steve McMahon is an ESPN analyst.

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