Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier has joined the calls for English football to introduce a winter break if the national team are to succeed on the international stage.

“This is the only country where there is no winter break,” Houllier, a former manager of France, said.

“I believe we should keep the Christmas tradition of football over that period and New Year because it is special, with families taking children to games.

“But then we should have a break of two weeks after that. And not just the top clubs.”

Houllier pointed out the last English success abroad was Manchester United’s Champions League win in 1999.

“Keep in mind when Manchester United won the European Cup in 1999 that Alex Ferguson sent some of the players on holiday in January. Mentally you need a break.

“It would also be beneficial for the national team. I am looking forward to England winning something, whether that is the World Cup or the European Championships.

“But you need to give yourselves a chance for that.”

Unlike United, who have just enjoyed a five-day break in Dubai, Liverpool have not been able to take a break. They drew 1-1 with Wolves in a midweek League match and now face Newcastle in an FA Cup fourth round tie on Saturday at Anfield.