England And The Meaningless Friendlies

Posted: November 9, 2015 in England, International Football, Opinion
Tags: , , , , , , ,



(Mr Roy in pensive mood having just been told there is no game this week, it’s next week!)


The prayer of the Premier league manager just before every meaningless international break. The questions spinning in his head such as, “should I say he is injured?” How about, “he’s been kidnapped by men dressed in black and wearing balaclavas.” What about, “he has had to go and see his sick mother in Matabele Land.” Will I get away with any of these or have they all been tried before?

Will Mr Roy fall for the old, “he’s just twisted his ankle and will have to pull out, sorry and all that, maybe next time,” or will he insist on the player being seen by the England doctor?

Can I really risk an injury to a star player which may cost us points, which may cost us the league title, which may cost me my job?

Even if the player doesn’t seem to be injured when he returns from international duty, how can I be sure? Look at what happened to poor old Arsene Wenger with Aaron Ramsey. Played a full ninety minutes against Watford then a further seventy minutes against Bayern Munich before the Arsenal medical staff realised he had been injured two matches earlier playing for Wales. It was such a tricky injury to identify that nobody on the Wales medical team spotted it. Nor did anybody from Arsenal until the seventieth minute of the second match after the injury.

What if that happens to one of my star players? Are my medical staff good enough to spot it? Or are they as inept as the Wales and Arsenal quacks who obviously don’t know a boil from a chestnut?

Maybe I’m just being paranoid. I should just tell the international managers to go easy, it’s only a friendly. Bring him off at half time and it’s over and done with, until the next meaningless international break.

But wait! Isn’t that what happened to poor old Manuel Pellegrini? Vincent Kompany was only going with Belgium for the ride, having missed the previous five games for City, due to injury. Marc Wilmots knew better of course. Belgians generally do. He played Kompany for fifty eight minutes before bringing him off. Based on the Aaron Ramsey scenario it could be weeks before City find out if Kompany suffered an injury or not in this game.

Seriously though, there can be very little more annoying than having one of your players injured whilst on international duty, meaning that he will miss games in the Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga etc, etc.

It must be doubly annoying when the game is a meaningless friendly, particularly when, if they are honest, all England will discover when they play Spain and France is that they are not as good as Spain and France. Guess what? We know that without risking humiliation against them.

It must be triply annoying when the meaningless friendly is scheduled to interrupt the season at such a vital time. Leading up to Christmas, the period that will define a lot of club’s season. This has to be one of the worst times to lose a player through injury.

The worst time though, has to be the friendlies scheduled for March next year. Going into the last lap of the season, games which will potentially decide promotion, relegation or title wins have to be put on hold while England, for example, find out they are not as good as Germany or Holland.

Other than to justify the ridiculous salaries of international managers and to get the players together for a sing-song round the campfire, what is the point of these games?

They are nothing more than stocking fillers in between tournaments because the football associations around Europe can’t think of anything better to do than disrupt all the league programmes a couple of times per year.

The sooner these silly games are scrapped, the better for football. The youngsters are gaining far more experience playing in competitive games for their clubs than they ever will by playing meaningless international friendlies.

  1. Stevie says:

    Couldn’t disagree more.

    They are not meaningless. International football should be the pinnacle for any footballer. Club football us just all about the money and buying the best team and trophies. International football is different and while people perpetuate thus hostility to international football the Englamd team will be worse off for it and fail to win anything, it’s about time people started to support the england team more. For me club football is more meaningless and souless than international football.

    As said all about the money and buying the best teams. I don’t even know how people still get excited for club football anymore I know I stopped a very long time ago when I fully realised what it was really all about.

    And this club v country row grates at me. In definitely on the side of country over club. Would t you like to see england ever win a real tournament ?


    • Fair points, well made Stevie. I agree that playing for their country SHOULD be close to the pinnacle of their career. The actual pinnacle should be winning something with their country, a feat not achieved by England in nearly fifty years. This, and the suspension of the Premier League, is why people dislike international football. If England were a successful team it wouldn’t be so hard for people to bear. I guarantee that they would still be against the timing of the games even then. Thanks for the comment.


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