Dhe Boxing Day and Jürgen Klopp – so far the traditional game day on Boxing Day in the Premier League has not caused much joy for the 2020 world coach. Too many games, too little relaxation for his professionals, Klopp always complained. This year, however, the coach of English soccer champions Liverpool FC is lucky. “We now have more time to recover than ever before in the season,” said the former Bundesliga coach.
In the past few weeks, the 53-year-old rattled against the schedule, the broadcasting TV stations, the TV contracts or the kick-off times due to the high level of exposure. Now the Premier League leaders can almost relax. One day after Boxing Day, the traditional club West Bromwich Albion will host the match at Newcastle United on December 30th. Klopp expects tough games, not only on Sunday against West Brom. “We know how hard it is, how hard it was and how hard it will be,” he emphasized on Christmas Eve.
For Pep Guardiola and rival Manchester City, Boxing Day continues 48 hours later and without the professionals Gabriel Jesus and Kyle Walker who tested positive for the corona virus. “Now Newcastle, then Everton and only two days difference,” said the former Bayern coach, annoyed. There will be no winter break like last year because of the season that started later due to the coronavirus pandemic. The schedule is tightly timed until the end of the season on May 23, 2021, much to the delight of the broadcasting TV stations.
Trainers admonish and criticize
The coaches admonish and criticize, otherwise the Christmas party day is usually raved about. “It’s just something special, in terms of the mood and for the people,” said TV expert Dietmar Hamann, who was able to experience the Boxing Day games with Liverpool, Manchester City and Newcastle United in front of a crowd that was sold out. Markus Babbel, also once with Liverpool FC, emphasized in “Kicker”: “This tradition is sacred to the English.” The entire time around Christmas and New Year is an extremely high burden for the players. “When you have finished the ten days, you are first chemically cleaned.”
Spectators will not be seated in most stadiums due to the corona pandemic, and the number of infections has risen again in England. The pubs, which otherwise enjoyed numerous customers on Boxing Day during the games spread throughout the day, also suffered.
Compensation for the fans
As a small compensation for the fans on the island, the league has allowed the BBC to show the game Aston Villa against Crystal Palace on December 26th (4 p.m. / in Germany on Sky) on free-to-air television. There has never been anything like it on Boxing Day. There is also the London derby between Arsenal with goalkeeper Bernd Leno against Chelsea with Timo Werner and Kai Havertz (6.30 p.m. / Sky).
But where does the term Boxing Day come from? It was created in the 19th century during the time of Queen Victoria. Back then, it was customary for the wealthier population to put together Christmas packages to give to poorer people and employees. Servants were off on December 26th, and on that day they received their Christmas packages from their masters, which they then took home to their families. Football has been giving presents to its fans on this day since 1966.
And made for resourceful professionals. Former midfielder Kevin Nolan (West Ham and Newcastle United) managed the feat of having to watch five consecutive games between Christmas and New Years due to a red or yellow ban. Former referee Howard Webb reported that some actors were looking for conversation. “‘A yellow card could help me,'” said Webb of a request from the pros. They’d rather be with their families at Christmas.