Poyet calls for mid-season break

Sunderland head coach Gus Poyet believes English football should implement a mid-season break.

Poyet's men start a run of three games in a week on Boxing Day when they host Hull City at the Stadium of Light.

Visits to Aston Villa and Manchester City follow that encounter for a Sunderland side that claimed only their third Premier League win of the season last Sunday by beating rivals Newcastle United 1-0.

While most major European leagues enjoy time off in December and January, the busy festive schedule is a tradition in English football - and one that Poyet feels should be scrapped.

"I think it's [the Christmas schedule] wrong. The players are fresh at the beginning of the season, not in the middle," Poyet said.

"I would not have a problem playing Saturday, Wednesday, Saturday for the whole of August. It's warm, the pitches are at their best. I don't see a problem in coming back for pre-season earlier and playing six league games in August and six league games in September.

"Some people are going to hate me for this, But I believe we only need a month off in the summer. Two months is too long, it's too much.

"You'd have to change it a bit when there's a major tournament but other countries manage it. I don't think it's a big matter if we start the season two weeks earlier and finish it two weeks later if it means we can have a two-week break in January in the middle.

"To ask footballers to play this many games in December is unreasonable. It's quite crazy. We could start the season earlier, finish it later and keep the tradition of playing on Boxing Day or even New Year's Day but then we stop.

"The England team would be much, much better in July and August. Other nations fit winter breaks around World Cups. It's only England that doesn't.

"We batter players in December. We played 10 or 11 games until the end of November and eight in a month when the weather's cold and wet all the time. How do you keep them in the best possible physical shape? How do you prevent them from getting injured?

"Then there's the mental exhaustion involved. It's not just physical, it's mental as well. And players can't rest over Christmas. They have family in the house. There's always lots going on. You want to sleep during the day - no chance."