A View from Oz: Pointless Internationals
After Arsene Wenger's comments last week about the redundancy and irrelevance of international football in the modern era the challenge had been set and International lover's around the world would've been dying for the weekends fixtures to make the great man eat his words. Sadly they didn't and most of the matches I watched failed to inspire yet again.
The less said about the Olympic tournament the better. From the start there was only going to be one winner, as Argentina were the only nation capable of fielding a respectable U-23 side (one that was remarkably close to their first XI) and although Nigeria showed patches of excitement it was Di Maria and Lavezzi who stole the spotlight, and a consistently apathetic but somehow still brilliant Riquelme who made the difference. Though one should never expect to much from what is essentially a blight on the footballing community. But after what was a surprisingly good Euro tournament this summer (winter on my side of the globe), especially in comparison to the previous competition which was probably the lowest point in international football history, one would expect to turn on the television and watch some of the same teams that entertained so much in the Austrian and Belgian sunshine perform yet again. Very few obliged. Champions Spain were unconvincing, England were at there sleep inducing best and France were dire yet again. This weekends games hardly put forward a strong rebuttal against Wenger's pre-FIFA-break attack.
Three games into the domestic season and we've already been subjected to two international breaks!?! FIFA, UEFA, what the F*ck is going on? After starting both my local and the Premier League seasons with a huge away trip to Sydney - my clubs biggest rivals - heading to an Arsenal friendly establishment behind enemy lines to watch the West Brom game 45 minutes after the conclusion of hostilities in Australia's biggest derby, somehow watching a bunch of second string international teams passionlessly kick a ball about in meaningless friendlies hardly soothes the appetite of the true football addict. Then, again only two weeks later, after witnessing two equally brilliant and awe-inspiring performances from both Arsenal, a 3-0 win against Newcastle, and Melbourne, a 5-0 win against, of all clubs, Newcastle, being forced to endure Australia and the Oranje go through the motions in yet another friendly with half the intensity of a middle aged men's indoor game is far from satisfying.
Midway through the first half of that game I found myself more interested in the safety of Van Persie's flimsy legs than I was in Australia's search for a leveling goal in what would become one of the Aussie's more famous footballing victories. I was ecstatic to find as the players took the field for the second half that the new Dutch manager had removed RVP from the line of fire, replacing him with Ryan Babel.
The fact that I now care more about the health of one Arsenal player, albeit a very significant one to our hopes for the season, than the entire Australian national team says a lot about the inconvenience put on the average football fan by the persistent interruptions FIFA force on us through their unnecessary numbers of international fixtures. Five weeks in to the football calendar and I have already spent two of these weekends away from the terrace and my local Arsenal pub, a fact that pisses me off to no end. I would much rather spend my weekends singing my local clubs songs to my throat is raw and drinking away a Saturday night watching the perfect geometric triangles Arsenal weave around opposition defenders than watching the half arsed excuse for football that is England versus Andorra, or Austria versus France. Sepp Blatter wake the F*ck up sunshine, and pull your F*cking head out!
Personally I can't wait to get these mid week non-event fixtures out of the way and get back to the real football this weekend. With the terrace in full voice on Friday night and the pub in full swing come early Sunday morning (Saturday arvo for you Northern Hemispheric folks), it should be a good one. All in favour say I, the I's have it. Remember people keep it Gooner and try to stay awake during the next England debacle, after all the comedy they serve up is one of the only things that makes international football worth while. Cheerz, Ozi!