Ferguson's top tip for England

Sir Alex Ferguson has blamed the lack of a winter break in English football for England’s appalling showing at the World Cup, saying that the players came into the tournament fatigued and that a break in January would help them recuperate in time. Whose fault is it? The FA and television’s, of course, and nothing to do with him playing his star player Wayne Rooney when he was clearly still suffering from an ankle injury he picked up in the quarter finals of the Champions League.

‘The FA has to give the country the best possible chance of doing well in the World Cup,’ said the Manchester United manager. ‘Because of the nature of our game and because of the demands from TV to have a programme every week, the idea of a winter break, which I was first talking about 30 years ago in Scotland and have done since I came down to England, nothing has happened about it. They must realise that, going into the World Cup, they have handicapped their team.

‘The English season is exhausting. Most Decembers we play between eight and nine games at the worst time of the year. The pitches are heavier, the weather is worse and then in the second half of the season you'll find a lot of players at all clubs carrying strains, pulls, but because of the importance of the games they keep on playing.

‘And then when they get to the end of the season and have a major tournament like a World Cup or European Championship they are not 100% fit, they can't be. They need that rest factor which brings the energy back into the system. Germany always take that month-long break in January and they always seem to do better in World Cups than anyone ever expects.’

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