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The Big Question: Are these international friendlies complete bollocks?

by Josh Powell | August 13, 2013
Roy Hodgson

A ROY-IGHT WASTE OF TIME – England’s friendly against Scotland is going to benefit nobody

By Josh Powell | The Big Question

England take on next-door neighbours Scotland on Wednesday, in a friendly that means less to football fans than Kim Kardashian’s latest tweet.

It may be the oldest football match in history but it doesn’t benefit any English fans hoping for success in 2014. In 1872 these two sides met in Glasgow in the first ever international fixture – it ended 0-0 and that pretty much set the benchmark for both teams over the next 141 years.

  • Since Roy Hodgson took over in May 2012, England have played seven meaningless friendly games.
  • During those matches, Hodgson toes the party line of disrupting the entire second half by making a total of 32 substitutes after the oranges in those games.
  • Of the 77 names from those seven starting line ups, less than half got to see the final whistle.

Giving 31-year-old Rickie Lambert 12 minutes to prove himself towards the end of a game that nobody cares about is not going to tell you anything about his future international career.

Do players who grace the Wembley turf really need this FA money-spinner three days before the Premier League kicks-off anyway? Top flight stars are training with rival players ahead of the start of a fiercely competitive campaign instead of knuckling down with their clubs. No doubt Messrs Moyes, Rodgers and Mourinho are delighted to see their key men playing at Wembley less than three days before the start of the season.

HELP OR HINDRANCE? Chris Smalling could be set for four games in eight days

HELP OR HINDRANCE? Chris Smalling could be set for four games in eight days

Manchester United players certainly don’t need the run out.

  • Of the eight Red Devils in the squad, five of them have already played in Rio Ferdinand’s testimonial on Friday and the Community Shield on Sunday.
  • By the time United come out of the tunnel to play Swansea on Saturday night, Chris Smalling could be about to play his fourth game in eight days.

In a Football Fancast poll a few months ago 76 per cent of fans said they’d rather win the league with their club than see England win the World Cup. Fans’ interest in International friendlies is on par with their interest in the latest episode of Mike and Molly, and the majority of people will only take an interest in Wednesday’s game to ensure their star player doesn’t pick up a knock.

Arrests but no development…

The game certainly doesn’t benefit the MET police either. There were 51 arrests in Glasgow when the two sides met in November 1999, and to try to prevent trouble this week, the police have organised a pub split and have the power to ban fans from the area thanks to a new 24-hour bye-law. It’s hardly the greatest advert for the sport.

These kind of games are not helping England reach the levels of teams like Spain. Remember them? They’ve won the last three major tournaments. Of the Spanish squad that travelled to Poland and Ukraine for Euro 2012, 22 per cent were playing their club football in a different country.

‘They were given responsibilities they might not have had, experiencing a very different type of football’, said Xabi Alonso. ‘If you can adapt it improves you.’

We can’t help English players’ reluctance to travel overseas but what the FA can do is organise friendlies against sides that play a different style of football so that the national side can learn, adapt and improve.

Instead, England face the Auld Enemy in a game that disrupts players’ preparation for the new season, causes potential problems for the police, and teaches us nothing ahead of Rio 2014. Fans get to watch a friendly littered with substitutions and void of any tactical learnings needed to succeed in major tournaments.

Plus Wednesday’s Corrie has been moved to Thursday, we have to deal with Adrian Chiles for three hours and it’ll probably still end 0-0.

Is this friendly a waste of time or can England take something from a kick-about with our skirt-wearing chums? Vent your anger below or to @paddypower

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