Originally posted on Sport Witness.
It’s been a long time coming has this post. It’s been brewing for a long, long time, and like a rather good gassy blow-out, it’s about to appear and make you all run like hell.
I’m going to talk international football.
For those of you still with me, thankyou. I know how dull it is, and that’s my point really. International football used to be the highlight of every footballer’s career, and the dream of every young boy up and down the land. Now it’s just an excuse for the mad nutters called ‘football fans’ to come and cause havoc, whilst the players don’t sing the national anthem and have a bit of time off from their club. There’s no dignity in internationals anymore.
And that’s why I’d like to see friendlies scrapped.
As a football fan, as I expect you are, I’m a firm believer in continuity. I like seeing my team play week in, week out – preferably on a Saturday afternoon, and midweek football is even better. I don’t like seeing us play one week, then not the next as Capello has decided to request a three-month friendly break with the whole of West Africa. It just seems pointless.
Calling it a ‘friendly’ is already the kiss of death – an excuse for the players to have a bit of a jolly on the pitch, and gain another cap for their brand-new ‘cap museum’ they’ve just built onto the back of their £46m 928-bedroom house. There’s no passion anymore, because it’s all too predictable.
I’m sure the majority of us could pick a typical England squad that Capello would choose on a regular basis. He supposedly rewards form and raw potential, but I’m yet to see a genuine choice in his squads that would pleasantly surprise me. And that annoys me a bit, to be honest with you.
We don’t need friendlies clogging up the footballing calendar. This season, we’ve already seen five England internationals played, causing three breaks to a regular league season. They’ll be a break at the end of February next year for another friendly, and I’ll be damned if we don’t see another one before Euro 2012, too.
International football as a whole is a bit of a joke, currently. Never mind FIFA and their ludicrous and lethargic manner, we’ve got our own problems closer to home. Players who have such big egos that playing for their country is just a chore. A manager who has already said he doesn’t wish to manage beyond next summer. A stadium riddled with debt that we need as many games there as possible. Club academies that develop world-class potential, and clubs that aren’t willing to use them enough. A lack of funding in grassroots football that is beginning to affect not just the short-term future of our football, but the long-term too.
We need to be encouraging healthy competition, and a drive and hunger instilled in every single player that represents their country. We shouldn’t be taking short, constant international breaks for friendlies. We should be calling for two fortnight breaks, one in the winter and one in the spring, for the three or four games each country plays during the season.
We should also be calling for a bi-annual tournament, between the years of the European Championships and the World Cup. That way, we’ll be looking at a competition every season, and specific rules should be installed in order to ensure players are given an opportunity at every level.
Until that point, however, we’ll just be stuck with this drab, dull, lifeless thing we call international football…