Should Burnley and Norwich require a Carrow Road replay after tomorrow’s Emirates FA Cup fourth round tie, both club’s winter break will be thrown into disarray.
A first Premier League ‘midseason player break’ will take place between February 8th and 22 – although it will be a split break with half the schedule on the weekend of the 8th, and the other on the 15th.
Both Burnley and Norwich will play on the 15th, the Clarets being asked to play a 12-30 p.,m. kick-off at Southampton, with the Canaries at home to Liverpool at 5-30 p.m.
However, if the sides cannot be separated at Turf Moor tomorrow, they will face a replay on Wednesday, February 5th – giving neither club anything approaching a winter break.
Meanwhile, eight clubs – Everton, Crystal Palace, Brighton, Watford, Sheffield United, Bournemouth – Burnley’s opponents on the 22nd – Manchester City and West Ham – will get 13 days minimum.
Sean Dyche is somewhat bemused by the whole thing: “The winter break? Yeah...
“It’s slightly peculiar in that it’s a winter break that some teams might not have, including ourselves, because if we have a draw (against Norwich), we’ll have a replay, and you won’t get a break.
“I couldn’t quite work that bit out...
“Maybe naively, from the meetings in the summer, I pre-supposed that would be an absolute break, like a shutdown, regardless.
“So it was only probably a month ago I found out that’s not a shutdown, if you need a replay.
“I must not have listened at the meeting at the beginning of the season, which is highly unlikely!”
So any plans to take the squad away for some training in the sun, are up in the air: “We’ll have to (play it by ear), which is even more peculiar, because we didn’t find out the weekend we were going to have off until the middle of November, or so.
“If you think about it, it’s a break where you can’t plan to do anything, in case of the FA Cup.
“I’m not going to moan about it, they have to break it up someway, and maybe we’ve just come out of the situation the wrong week.
“But maybe it was just me being naive.
“I just thought it was an absolute shutdown, those two weeks, rather than playing on week one, or week two.
“Seemingly, that’s not the case.”
Dyche appreciates it is tough in the modern football calendar to find the space for a shutdown, given the demands of television: “I will say, in defence of that, when you look at all the varying competitions at the start of the season, including us when we were in the Europa, when you talk about taking weeks away, there are only so many slots.
“To give a true competitive element to the Premier League, apart from TV days, when your game changes, you should try and play on the same weekend or midweek, so there are only so many weeks when some team isn’t doing something, and you can fit games in.
“So there’s the Europa League, starting early and playing each week in between.
“If you put a game in there, it’s not fair on the team in the Europa – you couldn’t put that Christmas game in there for example.
“So it sounds really easy, but even with the algorithms, it’s difficult.”