So for the third time already this season football in the top two divisions takes a break
We had a daft stoppage after three games, another one barely a month ago and now, for two weeks there is no football in the Premier League or championship.
And the reason for this? Our old friend, the international break.
It never used to be like this. It doesn’t seem all that long ago – but in reality was probably 20 years ago, the same as most things that seem recent turn out to be! – that internationals were played on a Wednesday and players played for their clubs in the Saturday before and the weekend after.
Then somewhere along the line, this all changed and instead we have a series of breaks to allow managers and players to “prepare.”
Except the players themselves don’t seem overly impressed with this. Wayne Rooney, for example, tweeted back in September “longest day ever….” (although of course Wazza took matters into his own hands – or to be literal his feet – and ensured he would get some time off with his showing against Montenegro) and as a supporter, I know that there is nothing more boring than sitting around on a Saturday afternoon with no football to watch.
There was a piece on during the break a couple of months ago regarding the lack of interest in the England Internationals. It was on the night of the Wales game, with the landlord from the South Bank Sports Bar in Nottingham was on air saying that for the Bulgaria game the clientele was “your normal Friday night crowd, no one seemed all that interested in the game.” While the reporter said that it was “dead” in Nottingham’s pubs before the Wales match. Granted it was half 5 or so, but still.
So it begs the question: Is anybody (and by this I mean fans AND players) really interested in those games? Or are they merely a distraction from the real (in the case of the fans) and money spinning (in the case of the players) business of club football?
Managers too, have been lining up to crticise the breaks, one calling international friendlies “a waste of space,” with Neil Warnock being even more vocal (which makes a change….) and calling them “meaningless” and “pathetic” before adding: "[Can you imagine] if you'd had a player playing for Holland and he pulled a hamstring or did an injury and was out for six months in a game that they won 11-0 against San Marino?”
And if you think that can’t happen – just ask poor Dean Ashton….
It would be remiss of us at Leisure Leagues to criticise something and not come up with any solutions for how to make things better - so we will. Next week.