Club managers have long complained about the eye-rolling, time-wasting, player-injuring, jet-lagging fiasco that is the international friendly but are there valid reasons why they should be scrapped?
The main reason that club managers loathe the international friendly is the timing of them – or, rather, the mistiming of them. They interrupt crucial periods of the season (like now) in which managers want to prepare their players for club football.
Many of the top teams lose the majority of their senior players when they are trying to prepare for though months ahead in the domestic championships and cup knockout rounds along with European knockout fixtures.
The schedule congestion is already pretty hectic and it completely disrupts the momentum of teams who are performing well.
On that note, club managers are concerned over the fitness of their already fatiguing star players. Not only is there the worry that international friendlies in plonked in the middle of the season are tiring the legs of players who are already playing too many minutes in too many games, but then there’s the injury risk.
Many will remember when Manchester United striker Robin van Persie was injured in a Holland friendly in November 2009 that saw him sidelined for the rest of the season with Arsenal.
Clubs can lose their best players to injury and they can’t claim their wages on the insurance because they weren’t playing for the club and international friendly matches invalidate the insurance the national team has because it’s not competitive.
The financial losses alone can be devastating, especially for clubs in financial difficulty.
On top of all that, there is the fact that even the players don’t really gain anything from the matches other than another cap – the quality of the games is often poor because the chopping and changing of the team throughout the game means there’s not really any cohesion and plus the games aren’t competitive so it’s not as if their ability is being tested at the highest level.
All in all, you’d have to say the only benefit of international friendly matches are that the national team manager can have a ‘getting to know you’ session for a week with his talent pool and the players can compare their WAGs, wages and sports cars in what is effectively a get-together with their rivals.
But if the England players can take last night's big win as a morale booster, their clubs may just reap the dividends.
image: © Ben Sutherland