On balance overseas managers have improved our domestic soccer. Men like Arsene Wenger have improved the training, diet, fitness and attitude of his players and transformed Arsenal from a team known for its dull, percentage football (one nil to the Arsenal) to a fluid attractive side that have competed at the top for the 19 seasons he has been at the helm. Wenger is not only multi-lingual and highly intelligent but aware and responsive to our culture. Jurgen Klopp is not by advocating a winter break. I am passionately against this.
Since the Premier League was launched, spectators have been marginalised. Ticket prices have soared, games are scheduled to suit those who own the broadcasting rights, not to those who attend them, and as club coffers have swelled there is not a whiff that the prices might be reduced. Football over the festive period is part of our culture. This period seems to last forever, like some perpetual Sunday, so the opportunity to get out and watch your team leads to bigger crowds and much pleasure notwithstanding all the travel problems. Again, why no local fixtures? Ivan Conway can get to Brentford from Brighton but Alan Tanner has trip to Derby to contend with with to see his Fulham.
Klopp’s argument is that it weakens the national ‘s sides chances of doing well at the Euros. There are many other more convincing reasons why England have only won one competition and that nearly 50 years ago: our players are not good enough, when we come across a team of pedrigee in the quarter finals we lose, we don’t win penalty shoot-outs, we do not play possession football, our press builds up the team with gung-ho reportage then knocks them down vindictively, so wearing the national shirt becomes an unattractive option should a player personally under-contribute.
Do we play too many competitions? The top sides field alternative teams in the Capital Cup and Europa League away from home might be tiring but Italy and Spain supply teams to it without affecting their performances in the national competition . Besides I have never thought footballers in a team game as opposed to tennis players playing every other day would or should find it onerous to play twice a week.
Klopp’s Liverpool have not done well-reflected by recent defeats to Newcastle and Watford. After the first hoopla there are little signs that once again they will challenge for the top four. He would do better to address the problems of his team than pontificate on our game. On a German television every year on New Years Eve, there is shown a comic play Same Time Next Year featuring an old lady being served her dinner by a drunken butler. It is fact scripted by Freddie Frinton. I once saw it and did not find it funny the first time, let alone the fiftieth. When I raised this with a German friend he explained that it was so part of the fabric of New Years Eve that many Germans do not go out until they have watched it. Klopp should similarly understand that there are traditions of our culture that should remain and be respected. I am afraid to say he is talking Krapp.