English Premier League’s winter break freezes fans out: Neil Humphreys
Lack of football leaves supporters focusing on utter nonsense
The English Premier League winter break feels like a holiday with the extended family.
It seemed like a good idea at the time, but patience is wearing thin, the hotel is boring and the kids keep peeing in the pool.
This winter break feels like it has lasted longer than the Hundred Years' War, but not quite as long as a video assistant referee review.
We are reminded, yet again, that although we claim to crave peace, tranquillity and time alone with our innermost thoughts, what we really want to do is scream at the TV, turn a bright shade of Donald Trump and kick the cat because he looks like David Moyes.
No, this column doesn't advocate violence against animals, even in the context of mocking the death of the football club formerly known as West Ham United.
In fact, animal rights activists will soon occupy the Hammers' ground in protest of the damage done to that massive white elephant.
What this seemingly interminable delay in match action has demonstrated is that we still need anything football-related, even if it's only tangentially related to the sport.
Dele Alli was an obvious and deserving target of our repressed rage as he reminded the world, yet again, that elite, young footballers should have time on their hands in the way that Jack the Ripper should have a knife in his.
Alli's coronavirus video gag was about as funny as his early season form, but it gave us an opportunity to vent nonetheless.
His deleted video was also a reminder that footballers left alone with their social media accounts are like toddlers left alone without diapers.
It's gonna get messy.
Alli was on holiday in Dubai, a smart destination to escape the stresses of EPL football as there were only 157 other EPL footballers in Dubai at the time.
Dubai for EPL footballers has become like Japan for Singaporeans at Christmas. It's a great place to get away from everyone - only to meet up with everyone that you're trying to get away from.
The Middle East is only one winter break and a couple of club takeovers away from completing its annexation of the EPL, which can only mean more photographs of topless footballers posing in rooftop infinity pools.
Having said that, feigning interest in James Maddison's poolside snaps proved easier than feigning interest in the 1-1 draw between Brighton & Hove Albion and Watford.
With such a paucity of EPL options, watching Brighton against Watford was like trying to watch free-to-air TV because Netflix has unexpectedly crashed.
And that's just watching it. Try writing about this stuff.
A Google search pulled up lengthy columns with headlines like: "What you need to know about the Premier League winter break."
Answer: There's not much football.
In desperation, hungry journalists were eagerly dispatched to the Etihad for the one decent game during the break - Manchester City v West Ham - only for the blockbuster to be called off.
So lengthy columns had to be written on the reasons for the postponement and what that decision meant for both clubs.
Answer: It was windy.
Second answer: They'll play when it's not windy.
We've also been inundated with speculative fiction to give us something else to talk about - like Mauricio Pochettino was spotted near Manchester United's new public relations adviser at a Brentford game, so the Argentine is clearly off to Old Trafford.
Similarly, Aston Villa's Jack Grealish was snapped on a beach getting a tan, so he's obviously preparing for a move to Manchester, where the sun never shines.
But the fluff stories have been the best. Those pointless nuggets of useless information about what our absent footballers have been up to.
There was Chelsea's Jorginho having a kickabout on a Brazilian beach, savouring the experience of playing with teammates older than 12.
We were also treated to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang posing on a private jet. He was all alone, something he experiences regularly up front for Arsenal.
There was even Marcus Rashford at the Superbowl hanging out with Jay-Z, Shaquille O'Neal and Kevin Hart, with the United striker taking on the Ringo Starr role in that particular super group.
But Rashford now has to swop the Superbowl in Miami for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in Manchester, which is worthy of our sympathy.
No more celebrity selfies, sandy beaches and infinity pools. It's time for freezing fixtures in February. We wouldn't have it any other way.
One of the most perplexing and frustrating EPL decisions will soon be behind us. But enough about Solskjaer, let's get back to the football.