GARY LEWIN: One game off just isn’t enough rest … give the players three weeks like on the continent
- My experience means that I have always been in favor of a winter break
- We have tried everything except a break to prepare players for international tournaments
- I think it is physically and mentally crucial to have a three-week break
- It must happen between the FA Cup third and fourth round without repeats
I have always been in favor of a winter break in the Premier League – mainly because of my experience at tournaments with England.
Research shows that in the last six months of a season you are four times more likely to get injured in the Premier League than anywhere else in Europe.
If you play every three days, the risk of injury increases enormously. We have tried everything to prepare players for international tournaments. The only thing we have never tried well is a winter break.
Marcus Rashford suffered a long-term injury to inflict a huge blow on Manchester United
I find it crucial – physically and mentally – on condition that clubs are not allowed to play friendly matches. And that is easy to arrange because you need the FA’s permission to play abroad.
One game off is not enough for me. We argued for two weekends – so it was a three-week break. That is 10 days off and 10 days of training. That is what they prefer on the continent.
It was clear that you will never do that during the Christmas period, so January is the time to do it. With Sven [Goran Eriksson] in 2006 we were very close, but there was no agreement because of the money.
With Sven Goran Eriksson we were close to an agreement for a winter break in January
For me there must be a pause between the third and fourth round of the FA Cup, but for that you have to lose repetitions. What they have done now does not go far enough. It’s like being knocked out of the FA Cup and taking a long break.
In the 1980s, players kept ticking between games. Because you only had 18 in a team, training actually played – for the first team or reserves. It was not a program.
Players were not athletes like now. I hear ex-players say, “We played twice a week and it didn’t hurt me.” But research showed that between 2006 and 2012 the number of high-intensity sprints – and the distance traveled – both increased by 30 percent. Since 2012 I think the weather has increased. It is completely different today.