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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!

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The Journalist

Writer: Ozi Gooner Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Tuesday September 9 2008

Time: 6:55PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
Maybe I'm being narrow minded, particularly towards supporters fromthe lower leagues, but I question whether anybody actually supports their national team really. Strip away the bull***** for a minute and the tabloid agenda and the "you have to it's your country" nonsense and people actually analyse how they feel, possibly with the assistance of some sort of Descartian floating tank or other sensory deprivation, do people actually give a ***** or are they just doing as they're told? I have my doubts. How can you love something on command?
Little Dutch
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09/09/2008 19:21:00

Bottom line is that the vast majority of England players are complete *****s. They're an embarrassment as ambassadors to the country both as footballers and as people. I'm more than happy to ally myself with people like Fabregas, Clichy, Rosicky, Toure, Sagna, etc who are a credit to themselves, their countries and to Arsenal. Compare these players to Terry, the Coles, Ferdinand, Rooney, Neville, Defoe, Lampard, etc. *****s, the lot of em.
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09/09/2008 20:01:00

these international breaks are so annoying, we're half way through September (almost) in our stop-start season - do it and we've only played three times!
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09/09/2008 20:25:00

and to cap it all we've lost one of our best players for the season!
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09/09/2008 20:26:00

Merlin, which player have we lost for the season? Bendtner's the only injury I've heard of and it doesn't sound like a season-ender.
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09/09/2008 20:33:00

Merlin's Chelsea, he's talking about Essien. Admittedly that sucks for Chelsea.
Little Dutch
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09/09/2008 20:39:00

One man's trash is another man's treasure.
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09/09/2008 20:46:00

Oh poor chlesea, which world-class cm will replace essien?!?!?!
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09/09/2008 21:01:00

robinho. what? oh.
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09/09/2008 21:07:00

"Fabregas, Clichy, Rosicky, Toure, Sagna" What, no Gallas?
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09/09/2008 21:50:00

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09/09/2008 23:03:00

C'mon Ozi. I can understand that an England fan might express the opinion that international games, including World Cup qualifiers are pointless, because that's the impression their players give with their lacklustre efforts. It is unbecoming of a Footeroos supporter, however. While the Holland game might not have been for points it was important in terms of team building as the next stage of our qualification campaign begins. Yes, like you, I felt queasy every time David Carney honed in on RVP's fragile pegs. Yes these internationals interrupt the flow of the Premier league season, but I prefer to revel in a high quality passionate form of football (Argentina v Paraguay was a cracker!) where your results don't depend on how rich your owner is.
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10/09/2008 00:28:00

I still to watch England (however frustrating), but the fans have started to get on my nerves, as well as the media. How good do they they actually think we are (or are not as the case in all too often). I definately prefer watching the U21's and U19's. Especially last night when we had Ramsey, Hoyte, Murphey and Jay Thomas all playing for England. Mix that with Barazite playing for Holland, it was really interesting.
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10/09/2008 08:59:00

Ramsey played for England????!!?
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10/09/2008 11:18:00

I too am frustrated by these international, maybe because I had only just started to enjoy the fact that the EPL was up and running, I felt that the internationals came at the wrong time for just as we had just beat Newcastle 3 nil, and we look very good then we are stopped in your tracks for 2 whole weeks.
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10/09/2008 12:56:00

I think navydave meant to say Ramsey played for Wales, we all make mistakes don't we!
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10/09/2008 12:58:00

"meaningless friendlies" -- umm, these were NOT "meaningless friendlies" -- they were WORLD CUP QUALIFIERS. I agree with your general point -- I can't wait until the int'l break is over and the FIFA calendar this August-Sept. was ridiculous. The first break was all about friendlies meant as warm-ups for wc qualifiers. Still, the fact is that millions of football fans around the world DO care about the world cup. South Americans DO very much care about the Olympics. And Argentina-Paraguay, Uruguay-Ecuador, Brazil-Chile were fantastic games, not at all boring.
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10/09/2008 15:36:00


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