GLENN HODDLE has revealed how the brutal Christmas period can make or break a Premier League side at the busiest time of the season.
The former England, Tottenham and Chelsea boss — who also played for all three as well as abroad at Monaco — feels the heavy schedule can be the difference between a title charge and relegation battle.
Here the Amazon Prime Sport pundit, 63, explains how footballers survive the festive feast of fixtures.
YOU still try to enjoy it and have the banter and the spirit of Christmas in the dressing room.
We had the wind-ups and also did the hospital visits.
There would also be a drink way before Christmas and a get together but it was pretty professional looking back, nobody got out of order.
A lot of the time on Christmas evening you were in a hotel, preparing for an 11.30am kick-off on Boxing Day.
Some managers say “have a beer, or have a glass of wine” but you wouldn’t do anything stupid with a big game the following day.
We tried to do our best to enjoy it but really it’s the most vital time of the year in many ways.
Premier League fixtures in December
Friday 4 December
20:00 Aston Villa v Newcastle Utd (Sky Sports)
Saturday 5 December
12:30 Burnley v Everton (BT Sport)
15:00 Man City v Fulham (BT Sport)
17:30 West Ham v Man Utd (Sky Sports)
20:00 Chelsea v Leeds Utd (Sky Sports)
Sunday 6 December
12:00 West Brom v Crystal Palace (Sky Sports)
14:15 Sheffield Utd v Leicester City (Sky Sports)
16:30 Spurs v Arsenal (Sky Sports)
19:15 Liverpool v Wolves (Amazon Prime Video)
Monday 7 December
20:00 Brighton v Southampton (Sky Sports)
Friday 11 December
20:00 Leeds Utd v West Ham (Sky Sports)
Saturday 12 December
12:30 Wolves v Aston Villa (BT Sport)
15:00 Newcastle Utd v West Brom (Sky Sports)
17:30 Man Utd v Man City (Sky Sports)
20:00 Everton v Chelsea (BT Sport)
Sunday 13 December
12:00 Southampton v Sheff Utd (Sky Sports)
14:15 Crystal Palace v Spurs (Sky Sports)
16:30 Fulham v Liverpool (Sky Sports)
19:15 Arsenal v Burnley (Sky Sports)
19:15 Leicester City v Brighton (Amazon Prime Video)
Tuesday 15 December
18:00 Wolves v Chelsea (Amazon Prime Video)
20:00 Man City v West Brom (Amazon Prime Video)
Wednesday 16 December
18:00 Arsenal v Southampton (Amazon Prime Video)
18:00 Leeds Utd v Newcastle Utd (Amazon Prime Video)
18:00 Leicester City v Everton (Amazon Prime Video)
20:00 Fulham v Brighton (Amazon Prime Video)
20:00 Liverpool v Spurs (Amazon Prime Video)
20:00 West Ham v Crystal Palace (Amazon Prime Video)
Thursday 17 December
18:00 Aston Villa v Burnley (Amazon Prime Video)
20:00 Sheffield Utd v Man Utd (Amazon Prime Video)
Saturday 19 December
12:30 Crystal Palace v Liverpool (BT Sport)
15:00 Southampton v Man City (Amazon Prime Video)
17:30 Everton v Arsenal (Sky Sports)
20:00 Newcastle Utd v Fulham (Sky Sports)
Sunday 20 December
12:00 Brighton v Sheffield Utd (Sky Sports)
14:15 Spurs v Leicester City (Sky Sports)
16:30 Man Utd v Leeds Utd (Sky Sports)
19:15 West Brom v Aston Villa (BT Sport)
Monday 21 December
17:30 Burnley v Wolves (Sky Sports)
20:00 Chelsea v West Ham (Sky Sports)
Saturday 26 December
12:30 Leicester City v Man Utd (BT Sport)
15:00 Aston Villa v Crystal Palace (BBC)
15:00 Fulham v Southampton (Sky Sports)
17:30 Arsenal v Chelsea (Sky Sports)
20:00 Man City v Newcastle Utd (BT Sport)
20:00 Sheffield Utd v Everton (BT Sport)
Sunday 27 December
12:00 Leeds Utd v Burnley (Sky Sports)
14:15 West Ham v Brighton (Sky Sports)
16:30 Liverpool v West Brom (Sky Sports)
19:15 Wolves v Spurs (Sky Sports)
Monday 28 December
15:00 Crystal Palace v Leicester City (Amazon Prime Video)
17:30 Chelsea v Aston Villa (Amazon Prime Video)
20:00 Everton v Man City (Amazon Prime Video)
Tuesday 29 December
18:00 Brighton v Arsenal (Amazon Prime Video)
18:00 Burnley v Sheffield Utd (Amazon Prime Video)
18:00 Southampton v West Ham (Amazon Prime Video)
18:00 West Brom v Leeds Utd (Amazon Prime Video)
20:00 Man Utd v Wolves (Amazon Prime Video)
Wednesday 30 December
18:00 Spurs v Fulham (Amazon Prime Video)
20:00 Newcastle Utd v Liverpool (Amazon Prime Video)
As a manager you cannot be with them 24-7, you just sit there and hope the players look after themselves and nothing happens.
You’re in their hands at Christmas over how professional they are — but I don’t think the modern-day player has a problem with that at all.
It was a test for your family life but there are so many crucial points to be won at Christmas, over that short period of time.
Whether you are down at the bottom of the league or at the top end, things can change around very quickly over this period.
There are lots of games and then you know the FA Cup is going to hit you straight after that, so the fatigue levels are going to kick in.
If you have a good run, you can get 12 points on the board and that can be absolutely massive for your season.
So it’s a vital, vital time and it’s also manic. You have to manage your own mind to get the best out of yourself. You have to fit around the family.
I felt at Christmas as a player and certainly as a manager, because there’s so many other things to do, you find yourself fitting Christmas in. Just squeezing it in really.
You’re trying your very best if you’ve got young kids — or your family if you’re playing abroad.
But your mind isn’t quite there as if you shut down for two weeks or have the holidays off.
It isn’t like that, your subconscious doesn’t switch off and you know you’ve got training.
You know you’re going to train the day before and Christmas Day.
You’re squeezing everything in, you’re rushing back — it can become a real pain, to be honest.
Certainly as a manager it can be difficult to get everything in, you’re sometimes the first to arrive and the last to leave. In many ways Christmas is a hindrance but it’s the way it is.
Amazon Prime Video will be broadcasting ten Premier League fixtures from December 28-30 featuring matches such as Everton v Manchester City, Newcastle v Liverpool and Tottenham v Fulham.
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