By Walter Broeckx
I must admit the first hours when I found out about the Walcott injury I was down. Very down. Why oh why did it happen again to one of our players.
We all remember last season. Robin Van Persie who was on fire. From the start of the season he gave assists and then he started scoring himself for fun. Nothing seemed to stop him in the EPL.
And it wasn’t something or someone in the EPL that stopped him. No it was a friendly international game with Holland that stopped him. We lost him for almost the rest of the season. Things could have been different with him in the team as the understanding between Cesc and Robin was excellent. They could find each other on the pitch with both their eyes blindfolded. Giving assists to each other and scoring as if it was nothing.
And now Theo Walcott was on fire. Some pundit tried to tell us that Theo has no football brain, but maybe this was just down to the fact that this pundit has no brain at all. Theo was scoring for fun, he was creating space for others, his understanding with the other strikers was great tot see and they changed places and confused the opponents. The only difference one can say is that this time it wasn’t a friendly but it was for the qualifying games for the 2012 European Championship. Now suddenly we feel better about this, don’t we.
How long we will miss him is not sure at the moment I write this. Rumours say that he will only be out for 2 weeks. Well if that would be the case I would take it in a minute. But when we remember Robin Van Persie last year he also was said to be out for just a few weeks until the truth came out and he was out for the rest of the season. So, I am holding my breath a bit until we see Theo back in full speed dressed in an Arsenal shirt.
I have said it before I don’t care about international football at all. But I can understand the need that people may have to identify themselves with their national team. So I don’t want to say to just ban the international football from this world. But what I can do and will do is to question the system that is being used for the moment.
Some time ago Fifa and Uefa recognised the need to take on some more or less fixed dates for international football. And so they decided that the international games should take place at the start of September, halfway October, the end of march and if needed some games could be played at the end of May or at the begin of June. And we can add to that the fact that just before the start of the EPL there is a somewhat fixed date for friendly internationals.
And mostly in those weeks with international football each team is playing some 2 games. Depending on the size of the group a team is in. But some of our national federations also have the habit of introducing a friendly game when they only play one game in that period.
This means that in total we have around 6 qualifying games to be played in a season. And 2 friendly games. A total of 8 games per season in which our players are taken away and almost every time we see one or two coming back on crutches.
These 3 weekends where there is no league football mean that the league ends on May 22 this season. But if we could play those 3 weekends with no interruption for international games we could end the league at the first weekend of May. And this would leave a gap open for about one month where the national teams could play their 5 or 6 qualifying games and still the season would have the same length as it has now.
Because now the last game England play is on 4 June 2011. And if they would play at a ratio of Wednesday-Weekend those 5 or 6 games they could finish at the same date without any problem.
So this would mean that the fans of international football could enjoy themselves and could have all their football for a month and this would be like having a world cup each year. The media could focus on this and maybe the football federations could even make more money on it. Holland could turn orange in that month. England can get crazy about their national team.
It would be better for the team spirit of the national team because the players would become more a group. I know this can also turn against you when you have troubles but that is up to the players involved to sort those things out.
And the best thing for the clubs is that they don’t lose their players during the season because of injuries they got when playing for their country. If a player gets an injury it will mean that it will be the national team that is suffering the most from this and not the club team.
The club teams don’t see their season cut in pieces with every now and then almost a whole team of players leaving and coming back with jet lag in their body or with malaria or God knows what other diseases or injuries. They can train and play games in an even rhythm because sitting in a plane for hours is not the ideal preparation for a football player to stay fit.
And it will also mean that if a player gets a very bad injury and would be out for the whole season it will mean the teams can adjust this in the transfer period that will follow the international games. So even an injury can be fixed by the clubs.
I think both the national federations and the club teams could win if they only would decide to change the dates of international football, get them out of the regular season and put the games together at the end of the season.
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