The Christmas Rush

The last few days have been eerily quiet. The week before Christmas is always like the calm before the storm – the League Cup quarter-finals like the first big, inky spots of rain before all hell breaks loose and the storm that is the Christmas schedule starts. In case you’re unaware of what I’m talking about (and there are some of you that might not), Christmas is the time of year that football in Britain goes a bit insane. Between today and January 1st (that’s just ten days), our footballers will play four matches. One today, one on Boxing Day, one next weekend and one on New Year’s Day. Somewhere around one-tenth of the season’s league fixtures will be played and, in ten days time, we will all emerge, bleary-eyed and hungover, and everything might just look a bit clearer than it does now. When foreign players started coming into the British game in the mid-1990s, there were some complaints. An Italian footballer, say, would no more be expected to play on Boxing Day than he would be expected to go water-skiing. On much of the continent, the players are starting to wind down for their Christmas break. The stories of players complaining were probably over-stated (and there are as many British players that complain it as there are foreign players that complain about it), but you do find...

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