Just 5 days ago, NostraWenger gave his assessment of Arsenal’s poor November record over the last few years and put the blame directly on the door of injuries.
Traditionally November has not been a good month for us but I explain that by the fact we had more injuries, it is the first period when they kick in. It depends on the fixtures too – you can have two or three difficult games in November. You have decisive games in the Champions League and the players go on international duty. Now we have that break and all the players fly away so let’s hope they all fly back in good shape. After that we go to Sunderland and that is always a difficult place to go.
Though we don’t quite know the extent of the injury, it’s looking a lot like Arsenal lost a key player to what looks like a very serious injury. Robin van Persie seems to have suffered an ankle injury under a heavy challenge by Italian center back Giorgio Chiellini, in an international friendly.
As my regular reader knows, I’m no fan of Nationalism Football. In fact, parsing the Arsenal blogs this morning, it looks like none of us are fans. But I think most of us would be fine with internationals if they confined them to the off season. You could easily shorten the Premier League season by taking out all these international breaks, then give the players some time off in Spring, and get them back in training with their national team for Summer. Or even vice-versa, get them straight into international play in Spring, and then a break in Summer.
To say that having these breaks in the middle of the season is really frustrating, is an understatement. And it’s not just the ubiquitous injuries: it’s the time away from their club; it’s the two week break as players fly all over the world and put in what is usually some kind of mediocre football; and then it’s the players flying home where some, like Vela, fly 11,000 miles round trip. Then the boss gets one day with his team and they are off to play a team that is well rested because they only have one international, like Sunderland.
But it’s crazy for the players and fans of International football as well. For players in the EPL the months of November through January are insanely scheduled, you’ve got two English cups, the Champions League, the Premier League, International football, the Christmas jam of fixtures, and for the African players, the Africa Cup of Nations which puts stress not only on those players but on their teammates as well.
And if you’re a fan of the International game, look at yesterday’s match between “England” and Brazil in Doha. More than half of the English team were either canny enough to say they had an injury or were actually injured, which left basically the English team playing as Spurs and Villa, with a little Man City, while Brazil fielded a mostly starting team. And then you top the whole thing off by holding the match in Doha; 3,500 miles from London and 7,300 miles from Rio! How is that valuable to anyone? I mean anyone outside of Dubai.
I know that the Internationals are all about making money for FIFA but there needs to be some sense injected into this madness. Clubs and their fans are the ones who support these international teams, we build the players up through our support of them at club level, going to 38+ matches a season. Those supporters shouldn’t have their season thrown into chaos every two months so that the casual International supporters can see James Milner and Wes Brown trundle around in Doha as Brazil give yet another exhibition of the gulf in class between the English team and the Brazilian squad.
It’s madness, these games should be held on their own time, in their own season and not breaking up the season for the rest of the world’s clubs. But like most of what FIFA does, it’s a madness that makes sense to them, and doubtless will never change.