So this week the world of football has turned its eyes to their national team, as club football takes a break, and international sides play two matches against each other. For me, I watched England face Germany on Wednesday, and am watching them play Lithuania right now. However, although clubs themselves aren’t playing, a few of their players will be, and to a few clubs, this can be rather frustrating.
For example, a few managers, such as former QPR, Portsmouth and Southampton boss Harry Redknapp, have voiced their disapproval of international breaks, with Redkanpp quoting “that fortnight, for me, is a dead fortnight.”. The Poplar-born Boss, who has previously also coached the Jordanian national side, says that he thinks that international break weeks, such as this one, that are just friendlies, are pointless and he would rather be watching the Premier League.
The stats can back Mr Redkanpp up here too. If you look at Stoke City’s form before and after the international break in November, you will notice a large difference. Going into the break, The Potters were in fine fettle, unbeaten in the league since mid-September, yet, after the break, they won just 2 of their next nine games, both 2-0 wins at home, to Watford and Burnley.
It’s not just clubs that are affected by international breaks, it’s players too. Burnley’s Sam Vokes is a good example. The Welshman had scored 3 times and got 1 assist in the four games leading up to the international break in November, however, he has scored only one goal in the league since. It’s not just players affected by the break, it’s teams too. Liverpool are notoriously poor returning from international breaks, as are Arsenal and Chelsea (the blues barring this season)
Injuries are also a huge problem to club sides. Both Chris Smalling and Phil Jones have returned to Manchester United with problems, Seamus Coleman, a huge cog in the Everton defence, has also suffered a leg break whilst playing for Ireland, ruling him out for at least the remainder of the season and likely into next campaign too. This will be hugely frustrating for the clubs, especially with the England game being a perhaps unnecessary friendly to honour Galatasaray forward Lucas Podolski.
On the contrary, it could be argued that, without these mid-season matches, our international side would be even poorer than current at international tournaments. We all complain and long for England to do well in an international tournament, however, they always seem to let us down. The Three Lions often tend to look very disjointed and out of sync when playing, and the only clear solution to this is for the side to spend more time together and get used to the system that they are using, but dare they increase the number of international breaks when both the fans and the clubs despise them so much? I guess it comes down to whether we value domestic success over international success.
To conclude, international breaks are a huge frustration to both fans and clubs in the short term, but maybe they are vital to our international hopes, even if they do cause club sides problems during their domestic campaign.