Football

Pochettino has doubts over EPL's winter break

Spurs boss believes it's crucial for the English game to keep the same dynamic

Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino has questioned whether the proposed winter break would work successfully in England, saying the English Premier League is different to other European leagues.

British media reports say that three English bodies - the Football Association (FA), Football League and Premier League - have discussed the possibility of top-flight teams having a staggered annual 13-day break in early February, starting from 2020.

The finer details of the proposal have yet to be sorted out but Pochettino said organisers would have a tough task on their hands.

"I think that the Premier League is the Premier League. It is different to other leagues. To keep the same dynamic is so important," he said.

Pochettino was speaking at a news conference on Tuesday, ahead of their FA Cup fifth-round replay against Rochdale this morning (Singapore time).

The winners will advance to the quarter-finals where they will meet Swansea, who defeated Sheffield Wednesday 2-0 in another fifth-round replay yesterday.

"I don't know how it is going to work... In England, you cannot stop playing on Boxing Day or in the New Year or in the Christmas period.

"I think this is the most beautiful period in England to play football. But in Spain, if you want to play in this period, the fans are not happy. It is cultural.

"Maybe in February, it is going to happen. So okay, we will see if it is going to work but I'm not sure."

Clubs in Spain, Germany, Italy and France have breaks in December and January, but English domestic competitions are spread out so there is no lull in action from the start of the season to the finish, reported Reuters.

As a result, the proposed change would also require alterations to the FA Cup schedule, with media reports suggesting that the current idea would work only if FA Cup fifth-round fixtures were played mid-week and without any replays.

Teams from the lower-tier Football League would not get a break as they play 46 games every campaign, leaving no room for a hiatus.

One of the benefits, though, is that the England national team could be fresher by the time the European Championship or World Cup comes around.

Gareth Southgate's charges could potentially be saved from a burnout when they play in major tournaments after the season ends.

In an interview with the Telegraph last November, Liverpool's Germany international midfielder Emre Can talked about his demanding schedule, which his international teammates in the Bundesliga are spared from.

He said: "Of course, it's different if you have two weeks' break at winter.

"For example, in 2016 when the Bundesliga had a break, we had 10 games in that time. Of course that is a big, big difference.

"Sometimes you just need to speak to your manager to get a few days off because your body will need it.

"It will be a long, long season. Of course, there is a difference between having two weeks off and playing every game in England."

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