Premier League winter break is here to stay… despite Liverpool boss Klopp raising eyebrows

There are Premier League games next Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday too. It is the break with no visible break which is a clever trick from the fixture computer given Robert Firmino and Fred are sunning themselves in the Maldives, Trent Alexander-Arnold is taking in some basketball in Miami and most of the rest of the Premier League cast list seem to be in Dubai.

The way in which English football’s first mid-winter shutdown has been designed means TV still has games to show around the world and the fans still have something to watch yet the players have some down time on a rotational basis.

It isn’t quite a level playing field – Chelsea and Manchester United have 16 days between games; Manchester City and Leicester City 12 and poor old Southampton ten because of their FA Cup replay last night but it at least gives everybody something.

Hard though it is to weep like an overworked onion-chopper for a top-division footballer – their lot is hardly that of a pit pony – if we want to see them at their best, and in some cases if we want to see them at all, this down time is overdue.

You only need to have a look at the state of England’s top strikers – Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford and Tammy Abraham – all of whom are out injured, to see the cumulative effects of the English season.

While you cannot blame a collision with the advertising hoardings on a fixture pile-up as was the case with Abraham, the other three are all victims of the obsession with quantity over quality.

Unfortunately the official window has come too late for them – they broke before the break – but that does not mean it isn’t worth implementing. All their absences do is signpost the need to move the erroneously named ‘mid-season player break’ to earlier in the season if it becomes a regular part of the calendar.

Look around Europe’s top leagues – in Spain, Italy and Germany – and they shut up shop in December and January rather than six months into the season which is the case with the Premier League.

The continental leagues close down for longer as well but at least we are slowly moving out of the darkness and into the light.

It is not easy implementing logic in such an irrational, emotional, short-sighted setting as English football.

You only needed to hear the furore surrounding Jurgen Klopp’s decision to send the Liverpool kids and out against Shrewsbury in the FA Cup replay in midweek and sit out game No 41 of their season ahead of the 25 they could still have to play, to understand that.

Klopp took a risk with his reputation – while he was chilling on Tuesday, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was at the Manchester United youth team game on Wednesday – but his preference for recharging was vindicated by the outcome. Lo and behold, Shrewsbury manager Sam Ricketts blamed the effects of his side’s own bloated schedule for their failure to keep up with the whippersnappers at Anfield.

The break is intended to be to England’s benefit this summer when the Euros come around and there will hopefully be some life left in Alexander-Arnold, Jordan Henderson and Joe Gomez at the end of Liverpool’s season for Gareth Southgate because of it.

But regardless of whether there is a summer tournament for the national team, it should be here to stay.

However weird the break may look, it is a positive innovation for the English game.

You might think Israel Folau has horns for all the hammer Catalan Dragons have taken from their fellow Super League clubs for signing him.

For their information, the Australian may talk hellfire hogwash but he isn’t actually a resident of Hades.

Folau has his Old Testament religious beliefs which are hopelessly out of the step with liberal thinking but there are other players on the books of rival clubs who aren’t exactly angels.

Wigan full-back Zak Hardaker’s lengthy rap sheet, for instance, includes a five-match ban for homophobic abuse of a referee back in his Leeds days.

Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.

Brooks Koepka’s refusal to conduct live TV interviews during rounds at European Tour events sounds, at face value, po faced.

Golf is a sport which needs all the help it can it bringing out the personalities of its players and Koepka, as one of its least-marketable World No 1s, all the help he can get in putting himself out there.

But when he sees Graeme McDowell handed a time penalty yellow card after stopping to talk to Sky Sports’ Tim Barter in on his round at the Saudi International who can blame the American?

The Tour needs to align its laudable crackdown on fairway tortoises with its equally laudable desire to take viewers into the players’ minds in a way which makes some sense. Joined-up thinking required.