Premier League managers are torn but fans love football over Christmas

Louis van Gaal calls it evil. PSGs Thiago Silva this week said it will put Chelsea at a disadvantage in the Champions League. Sure enough, tis the season for discussing the winter break, that divisive subject that has crammed its way into the festive agenda.Some blame it for Englands frequent shortcomings on the international stage. Others blame it for injuries. Most fans simply love it, that demolition derby of games on Boxing Day and then a couple of days later before a fixture to see in the new year. It is tradition to some, a major concern in need of legislative change to others.Here, Sportsmail looks at the problem.Which countries break off?The vast majority. It is true that of the major European leagues only the Premier League ploughs on through Christmas. But the difference between us and them is actually far more pronounced when you look at what the smaller leagues do.The website has collated an excellent table that shows how each country will be treating football this Christmas. Interestingly, it lists 53 European countries, of which 37 have winter breaks. A further 11 countries have configured their leagues to run between the end of February or the beginning of March to November, thus bypassing the worst of the European winter.That leaves only five countries playing over Christmas England, Israel, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.The Premier League is one of just five countries which do not have a winter break scheduled on their calendar here Manchester City's Yaya Toure tries to get to grips with the arctic conditions on Boxing Day 2014Joe Hartretrieves the ball under pressure from then-West Brom striker Brown Ideye in the same matchThe likes of Lionel Messi (pictured) and Cristiano Ronaldo are afforded a winter break from Spanish footballHow long are they off for?The breaks vary. Italy take just under three weeks, Spain have a fortnight, Germany have a month. Other breaks, particularly where the climate is a serious consideration, are far longer. Moldova and Armenia have breaks that run all the way from November 29 to March 5 just over three months. Russia stopped playing on December 4 and will not start up again until March 1, similar to the Ukraine.Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich and the rest of the German sides have a month off over ChristmasWhat are the benefits of a break?Michel Platini famously said English players were lions in the winter and lambs in the summer. That could well be the result of players running themselves into the mud through winter (though you dont really find much mud on pitches these days). The basic argument is that the mental and physical fatigue of playing so many games means exhaustion will come into play, which in turn increases the likelihood of injury.The lack of a break is also seen as a major disadvantage to English teams playing in Europe. PSGs Thiago Silva expects his side to have an advantage over Chelsea when they meet in the Champions League, saying: Chelsea are playing at Christmas and new year and that must be a great effort for them. When it comes to the crucial moments of the season, the knockout stages of the Champions League and the end of the local leagues, they are more tired because they didn't have a winter break.'Michel Platini believes Premier League stars are made to pay for not having a break over the festive periodWhy do we not have breaks in UK?On the one hand, these festive games are a great tradition. On the other, it is a matter of practicality when would the games be played? Richard Scudamore, the Premier League chief executive, summed it up in an interview with the Daily Telegraph three years ago, saying: We have tried, but unless somebody is prepared to give something up, it is pretty hard. We are not inclined to reduce the number of clubs in the Premier League - if you were running a theatre and had 380 nights that you wanted to sell, why would you throw 60 or 70 of those nights away?Similarly, the Football League dont want to lose the League Cup. Its a huge source of funding for the Football League and it is a big solidarity play between the leagues. As for the FA, they dont want to give up replays in the FA Cup, so we all sit down and we all look at each other, but its pretty hard for those of us in English football to create that two-week space.No move to make a change is currently on the horizon.Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore has said his organisation have tried to bring in a breakScudamore believes the Capital One Cup would be under threat if there was to be a winter break in EnglandWhat do the managers think?Some say they like it, others have a grumble. Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce is firmly and frequently in the latter camp. He said: More and more figures prove that the winter break works. My teams have had breaks for the last 14 years in Dubai for five or six days in February. The stats tell you that my teams have improved their physical output in the last period of the season just by having five days break.In physical terms you get a great benefit, and I've 14 years of research behind that.Allardyce added: There's also a lot of research that shows European teams have less injuries after that break than we do, we continue to have a lot of injuries.By contrast, Arsene Wenger said earlier this season: I would cry if you changed that because its part of English tradition and English football. Its a very important part of us being popular in the world, that nobody works at Christmas and everybody watches the Premier League.Then there is Louis van Gaal, who said: There is no winter break and I think that is the most evil thing of this culture. It is not good for English football. It is not good for the clubs or the national team. England haven't won anything for how many years? Because all the players are exhausted at the end of the season.'Sam Allardyce (left) and Louis van Gaal (right) are both keen on introducing a winter break in EnglandArsene Wenger, on the other hand, is an admirer of the heavy fixture schedule during the Christmas period