Domestic matches may be given a week’s rest during International break, but it does not mean the players will get the necessary respite, as they are involved with their respective national teams. The situation becomes even worse for clubs from England, as most of the players who are plying the trade there are normally national team players from some corner of the world.
Hence, the club managers are always concerned in sending their players for international duty. They mostly fear the training routine which the national team may adopt nor the long distance travel, as some players might come back jet-lagged. To the agony of the club managers, players coming back injured from national team duties have become a common sign.
So far in this international break, players such as Schneiderlin of Southampton got injured during France duty, Mario Balotelli from Liverpool got injured during Italy duty and Leigthon Baines of Everton got injured during England’s duty.
But the team which suffered the most this time around was Manchester United. Adding to their already existing lengthy injury list, players such as Michael Carrick injured during England duty, David Degea dislocated his finger while training with Spain and the latest causality is Daley Blind, who got injured while representing Dutch national team against Latvia. Currently, 10 players are on injury list for the Red Devils.
This situation also creates a problematic relationship between the club and national team manager. When Sturridge was injured in September during a training session with England, heated exchange of words took place between Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers and England coach Roy Hodgson.
Rodgers was critical of Sturridge playing 89 minutes in a friendly against Norway representing England and training within 36 hours of the match. That resulted in Sturridge picking up a thigh strain injury during the training session with England, which the club mangers felt was ‘Preventable’. However, Hodgson hit back by saying that if they give two days off from a match for each player, then ‘they won’t be able to train’.
Even Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho was involved in a long battle with Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque to finally leave his star striker Diego Costa from being picked for international duty. However, Del Bosque would not have enjoyed the sight of seeing Costa (who was left out of Spain duty due to injury concern) played the entire 90 minutes against Liverpool last weekend.
Hence, it is not just the club managers who are suffering, but the national team managers are also experiencing the same while picking a star player from a club for International duty. National team managers often point the finger at club managers for not allowing their players to represent the nation.
Couple of months ago, Hodgson who wasn’t pleased about the whole situation surrounding the break said clubs prefer to give rest for their players rather than letting them represent their national side. However, Queens Park Rangers manager Harry Redknapp disagreed with him by adding, “I don’t know what Roy is saying there as international friendlies are quite often meaningless games.” He further elaborated that “Roy’s been a club manager and I’m sure when there was a break he would prefer a day or two’s rest to give the players a rest or take them away to train.”
This is not something new, as club managers are often used to complain about the international breaks. Jose Mourinho repeated the same last year when he stated that due to the international breaks, his Chelsea team were disjointed. His team suffered defeats to Everton and FC Basel after international breaks during the last campaign. Mourinho pointed the finger at the break for the defeats.
Letting their players represent their national team in a meaningful qualifier may not be a big problem, but their involvement in friendlies does not please the domestic managers. Manchester United legendary former manager Sir Alex Ferguson during his time at United had the same view. He was particularly critical of the international friendly taking place right before the week the new premier league season started for the past decade. Ferguson added that he had no issues with competitive matches, but the same cannot be applied for friendlies.
In the olden days, when the England top division was dominated by the same country players, not many players were called up for international duty. Hence, the mangers of the club used the international break as an opportunity to implement new ideas in the dressing room.
However, due to the massive number of foreign players dominating the clubs in the league, neither a so called big club or a small club can make the most out of the break, as most of their players are representing their club somewhere around the world during the break. Unless an alternative idea is suggested, neither party can be pleased with the existing system.