International insanity sees players injured

By Tony Attwood

“Injured on international duty”   It is an old phrase – although one that has been around a long time. It was first used in 1872 when Scotland played England, but its potency has grown year by year and the propensity for players to get injured during internationals has increased.   

So now we have the ultimate insanity.  Just as the last nine games of the season are about to be played and the league title decided, so players are removed from their clubs and called on to “do their duty”.   And let us not been fooled.  The use of that word “duty” is all part of the propaganda machine to stop us poor mugs who pay to watch matches from complaining when some of the top men vanish.

Thus this is not duty, this is part insanity, part a con trick, playing international matches just as clubs are preparing for games which can, in some cases deeply affect the outcome of the season.

Yet it goes on year after year, and this time around Manchester City found that both Kyle Walker and John Stones were injured playing in these ludicrously timed matches.   Are we saying that even at this stage the England manager doesn’t know what those players can do, and so has to see them yet again?

Indeed the pure insanity of all this came when Southgate, an international football manager, announced that there was no problem with playing Stones twice in four days.

At least Saka didn’t have to play.  Of course, there should never have been any question of him playing, but with international managers and the media and their ceaseless, remorseless use of the word “duty” you never know.

But Kiwior played a whacking great 210 minutes for Poland.   Imagine you had an employee who you pay £3m a year to work for you, and off he trots for a dangerous sports weekend, just when you need him most.  What would you say? 

Fortunately this time Kiwior got away with it, but that was pure luck.  Arsenal players played an average of 118 minutes each over the “break”.

But, you may say, surely it is always the same every season, and Untold always goes around protesting against internationals.   But no, this season is worse.   Sure, the number of players in each squad still has the same limitation of 25 players a club, but they play more.  For as you may have noticed, instead of games lasting about 93 minutes each when added on time is, well, added on, now it is over 100 minutes each as PGMO have decided it would be fun to make everyone work a bit more.

And we should point out that nothing in the rules has changed, so either referees were always derelict in their duty before this season, and should all have been sacked, or this season they are making things up, and should be sacked.  One way or another PGMO should be called to account.  

Now after this round of games one or two publications are saying a few words about this but the real question is, why were they not shouting before?   In fact now they are suggesting that somehow it is the clubs’ fault for being involved in so many competitions.

But surely that is the clubs’ choice, and if as a result of playing the same players in the League, League Cup, FA Cup and Champions League, they suffer injuries, it is the club that can be looked at for overplaying the players.  And indeed it is noteworthy that most clubs now play the reserves in the League Cup, and indeed sometimes in the FA Cup too.  

In fact, Arsenal effectively reduced themselves to two competitions this season in order to put in the best effort in both – and so far that approach has been working, despite having Jurrien Timber getting a serious knee injury in his first game.  (He finally returned to training last month).

So what happened to the 16 (yes sixteen) players who went off on what is ludicrously still called by the media  “international duty?”

Takehiro Tomiyasu and William Saliba showed sense and just said no.  But beyond that we should not just be thinking of the England first team because  Folarin Balogun and Emile Smith Rowe joined the England under 21 squad.   Also going on under 21 “duty” were Nuno Tavares, Fabio Vieira, and Mika Biereth by the Denmark u21s.

The reality is, I pay a lot of money to have my season ticket at Arsenal, and part of the deal is that I get to watch the Arsenal team that the manager selects.   Except the real reality is that I get to see the Arsenal team the manager wants to play minus those who have been injured playing in internationals.

Maybe if clubs were forced to give fans a refund when players are unable to play for the club because they have been injured playing for their country, that would make clubs think twice about allowing this nonsense to continue.  Or demand compensation from the countries for whom they played.


2 Replies to “International insanity sees players injured”

  1. Then we have the world cup in Saudi Arabia which the media said might take place in winter…..

  2. Ben , Another World Cup in impossible conditions or half way through the season ? I could imagine those oil states paying someone to watch this tragedy , they already own the media and they can afford it easily. I’m taking up the classic shove ha’penny game and waiting for the desert dust to settle.

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