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PL 2020/21: Cooling breaks need to make way having lost purpose

Cooling breaks
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“Cooling breaks have divided the Premier League (PL) games into four quarters. It’s not the players having a little sip, there’s huddling going on. These have become more of a technical timeout,” complained Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder. Frank Lampard further expressed his chagrin, adding that such breaks should not be extended.

For those living under a rock so far, PL football post COVID-19 resumed with a few changes. These included playing in empty stadiums, permission to make five substitutions along with cooling breaks. However, the aspect which proved to be the most controversial was the implementation of cooling breaks.

While the reasoning that players won’t be fit enough to play two matches a week for the whole month, after 8 weeks of lock-down seemed quite justified, the impact has been overall negative.

The momentum of the game has been needlessly shattered. This puts undue pressure on the players, who are hard-pressed to score before the break, when they will be forced to start afresh, making them more frantic in possession as well. 

Stats show that there have been more goals scored in the middle of the half, with the players caught flat-footed since the break. It has further been gathered that there has been a lesser concentration of goals scored during the first quarter of the game, with teams evidently a little cautious during the start of the game, aiming to get to the break unscathed.

This was most notably observed when Burnley scored just 30 seconds after a break against Liverpool. The Clarets again turned around the game against Sheffield United, scoring another goal after the second drinks break. There has been a greater spike of goals scored during the last quarter of the game, evidently after the second drinks break.

Players now know that they need to score a goal at the end of their 20-22 minutes of domination, because if they don’t, they will be starting from square one. Teams now aim to get to the break without conceding, knowing that they can again start afresh.

Justifying cooling breaks by emphasizing on the assistance that managers receive in getting their instructions across, would be an insult to those capable of changing the entire game during the half-time.

The breaks in the middle of both halves, were aimed at helping players battle it out in hotter climates, but Britain certainly won’t mind a bit of heat.

“England does not need the cooling break. The players are fit enough to play the 90 minutes a game, without breaks in between. England is not hot enough to need the breaks too,” said Gary Neville, echoing the thoughts of many.

Football leagues all over Europe were in a limbo due to the COVID-19. The new rules made the last remaining matches a new tournament altogether, and with the next season starting so soon after the completion of the present season, it also doubled as a preseason.

Managers had to plan playing these remaining matches with their entire squads, planning how to utilise their squads and making the tactical changes they wanted without a proper preseason. 

But with this mini-season over, cooling breaks should not be continued.

The next season will take place as it has always been, with matches once a week (it was fun to be able to watch football almost every day for the past one month) with breaks in between. Players will be back to their routine, needing only a half-time to catch their breath.

Written By: Rutvik Sanghvi.


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