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Arsenal's Holiday Payback

It`s far too early in the season to be drawing too many conclusions from what we`ve seen so far but we may have seen enough to be clear on the benefits that a summer rest can bring.

Paul Scholes has picked up quite a lot of praise for the way he has started the season, quite rightly as he has performed pretty well in the few games played so far. Wenger added his praise to the player when asked, accepting that he would like to have had him in his team while not being blind to his darker side. Naturally enough the media has churlishly seized on the one negative while ignoring the more manifestly positive nature of his comments. At Schole`s age he may not be able to sustain that level of performance through the season but he has clearly benefited from resisting the Italian overtures from Capello to appear in his World Cup opera.

Walcott`s decision not to take part in the same competition was not one of his own making but he has also benefited from the same opportunity to put his feet up for a few weeks. Compared to the early part of last season where his performances followed the folly of allowing himself to be used by the national sides in both U21 and the full national team he has looked notably sharper for nation and club. Wengers anger last summer proved completely justified as young Theo had to endure one insult upon another in a disjointed season, eagerly seized on by the unthinking, as pundits like Chris Waddle claimed he lacked a football brain. Waddles own football brain allowed him to overlook the fact that he was playing part time non league football and working in a sausage factory at Theo`s age such was the extent of his particular football brain at the time. The damage done to Walcott`s fragile reputation still allows Alan Hansen to feel confident enough to continue the theme even after Walcott`s weekend hatrick. Again Hansen`s grey cells didn`t allow him to point out that they weren`t plentiful enough at the age of 21 for him to be playing anything other than 2nd tier football in Scotland.

There is a price to pay for chasing the ancillary glory of international football - I wonder if Michael Owens career would not have waned so markedly by the age of 25 had he not made more England appearances by that age than Scholes was prepared to in his whole career. Ryan Giggs career, and his club, has also benefited from Giggs'own modest commitments to international football.

Last year Theo sacrificed most of a club season, perhaps not fatally damaging at his age if he has learned his lesson. Scholes, who didn`t make a full England appearance until 23 and ended his commitment to his national team at 29, seems to have benefited from knowing on which side his reputation is buttered. He is regularly feted as a world class player despite not having played for his national side for 6 years. Four years after his last England appearance Scholes was inducted into the England Hall of Fame an award only made possible by the quality of his performances at club level since his retirement. As yet Owen still open to an England call-up hasn`t been as far as I can see. Therein lies the first lesson Theo`s football brain has to learn. What you do in an international shirt is secondary, by some distance, to what you do in a club shirt. Your status as an international player will be measured pretty well exclusively by what you achieve with and for your club - everything else is window dressing.

Fabregas` career so far looks to be rewarded more by what has been achieved at international level than for his club but that ignores the fact that his international career for Spain may not have reached the point it has at the age of 23 were it not for the opportunity to win a club trophy at the tender age of 18. Fabregas has had to forgo a full summer break in each of the last 3 summers as international demands for European, Confederation and World Cup tournaments have inhibited the sort of pre-season that would allow his club to fully utilise the quality by which his international status is judged. Yet still it is largely the belief shown by Arsenal that has allowed him to achieve international glory at an age at which Scholes was only making his international debut.

As fates conspired to deprive Nasri and Rosicky of the rigours of international duty their enforced holiday, injuries aside, has made a significant difference to the way they have been able to start the season. Fail to prepare and prepare to fail as one sporting maxim has it. Over commit too much, too early, too long to the international game and you`ll invariably fail to prepare properly should be another.



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The Journalist

Writer: Amos Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Tuesday August 24 2010

Time: 9:29AM

Your Comments

Good point. I was hugely excited about seeing an injury-free Nasri with a full pre-season behind him. It's a real shame, but i guess the silver lining is that Rosicky will get a real crack in that position.
Chipo
Pity the same doesn't apply to Arshavin. We really need him to get up to his best this season.
Trennon
the podgy russian will be awesome with his new military haircut (incidentally, is this the new footballer craze? Nani and Evra both sporting a similar look!)
Chipo
I'm not really sure Amos that it's that cut and dried about resting over the summer. For every ' rested ' player who has started the season well, there are probably 2 or 3 players playing just as good, AND who were at the WC. Representing you country in major tournaments affords that player a great deal of personal pride and can be confidence boosting. Sagna has made a ' solid ' start for us as well as Diaby. Joe Hart has been inspirational for City, and is keeping Given out of the first team, a player who spent the summer watching tv like the rest of us. Tevez terrorised Liverpool last night, and with Barry and Milner joining in.
Cockney Rich
I think the benefits of a proper pre-season are clear. France went out well before the end of June so Sagna and Diaby still got rest time in. But I accept that some players are still able to perform at a reasonable level if still not as well as they might have been had they rested more. As much as anything though I wanted to contrast those players whose commitment to international football over their careers was less than wholehearted and the benefits of longevity that seems to have had on their careers while the absence of international football hasn't impacted on their standing at all. I don't doubt that some take pride in international representation but sometimes at the cost of pride in their club careers. International football uses and discards players based only on what they do with their clubs. Players should be willing to use and discard international football just as freely - it won't harm their careers.
Amos.
No they shouldn't they should represent their country at any given opportunity. One of the highest honours in sport, to represent your country. As Bergkamp/Vieira/Petit/Henry/Pires/Wiltord who were all superb for France over the years.
shewore
You know what i mean (Bergkamp)
shewore
They should represent their country, or the country of their parents or grandparents, or the country they have adopted to become citizens, when it makes sense to do so but recognising that their first duty is to themselves and those that pay their wages. Scholes and Giggs have got the balance right - many others haven't.
Amos.
I think the Royal Family comparison I oft wheel out strikes me more and more with international football. Everybody seems to say, "representing your country is the highest honour" but nobody seems to be able to say why. It's just become an accepted truth that invites nor accepts further argument. It is just because everybody says it is, so there.
Little Dutch
......you would not tell with such high zest to children ardent for some desperate glory, the old lie: Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori.
Amos.
Yeah, can see how it's becoming dated now, like the FA Cup, always used to dream of playing in the final of that, now our own club don't even count the thing as a trophy! I think Giggs's lack of playing time for Wales wasn't due too much to his own decisions, mind you, he must've made that subconscious decision when choosing them in the first place.
shewore
Scholes and Carragher have shown that it doesn't matter how you treat the national side if you're playing well enough for your club they'll always have to come back. Wes Brown and Paul Robinson will know that too if it is of any concern to them. Players like Walcott and Wilshere should focus on being the best they can be for the club. Desperate glories and old lies will ensure they'll always get a knock on their door if they're performing well enough - they just have to be picky about when it suits them to answer it.
Amos.
Scholes " regretted " not going to the WC and was left out of many England squads by previous managers. His absence from the International scene wasn't down to him employing any thought process in getting the club/country balance right. Giggs just got tired of failure with Wales, and got his ' glory ' with United. Again, there was no clear desire to balance his career out. He largely done what Fergie told him to, ie. "Don't go all the way to Moldova with Wales on wednesday night cos we're away to Liverpool saturday ".
Cockney Rich
At the time he retired from international football at the age of 29 Scholes claimed he'd put a great deal of thought into it and wanted to focus on his career with ManU. He'd regularly resisted calls for him to come back in the 6 years since - and despite any 'regret' now the call wasn't strong enough to bring him back this summer - but more importantly was the fact that the call still came - that would have flattered him more than actually taking part. The lack of international success and modest involvement hasn't damaged Giggs professional standing whatsoever - so how important can it really be?
Amos.
Important to the individual? A lot. Important to the club, limited, at best.
shewore
The point being that in career terms international football wasn't important at all to Giggs. International football is essentially parasitic - it feeds off what you first accomplish but you can cheerfully prosper as a player and be feted everywhere for your talent without international football playing much of a role at all. Players are beginning to realise this - younger players like Walcott and Wilshere need to learn this quickly. Michael Owen made as many international appearances before the age of 25 as Giggs and Scholes have in their entire careers. That alone wouldn't have been responsible for the brevity with which Owens star has shone at its brightest but it wouldn't have helped.
Amos.
And for that reason scousers never really took him to heart as one of their own. Not sure what you're basing your thoughts on Giggs are though without any direct quotations? He may've felt playing for Wales was extremely important on a personal level for all you know.
shewore
I wouldn't know Giggs's thoughts anymore than you would - but you can look at the number of appearances (50% of available fixtures) he made in the 16 years he was free to play and decide for yourself how important it was to him. I am sure he was proud to play when he did play and I wouldn't expect to hear him say anything else but if he hadn't played international football at all it wouldn't take anything at all away from his status as a player. That's what I mean about its real importance. How important would international football have been to perceptions of George Best as a player?
Amos.
Quite a bit actually, don't a fair few people believe that if he was Brasilian then he'd be laudest as the world's best? Likewise if Giggs had've had an international stage to deliver on it could've enhanced his worldly reputation as a player, albeit that'd be extremely difficult to do.
shewore
He is already lauded as one of the world's best - international football didn't put him there and wouldn't have changed perceptions of him. Same thing with Giggs - except that not over committing to international football has enabled him to perform at a higher level, with greater consistency and longevity for his club. On the other hand you can grab a brief moment in the limelight in international tournament football only to be dismissed as a footnote if your club form doesn't endure. It's quite possible to have a full career and be lauded as a top player on club football alone without playing any meaningful role at all in the international game. It isn't possible the other way round.
Amos.
Disagree, Pele, Maradona, Zidane - all punctuated their status amongst the world's elite with performances in World Cups. Georgie Best isn't mentioned quite in the same breath as them because of this, apart from mancs and ulstermen.
shewore
Zico and Socrates ? Don't remember David Platt achieving too much until Italia '90 changed his life.
Cockney Rich
I think that's the right description - they're just punctuation marks in a reputation rooted on other triumphs. I'd be pretty certain you'd find Best in any top 10 world footballers more often than not. As for Platt he arguably didn't achieve too much after Italia '90 either though he had a stint as a journeyman player in Italy until he won the title here as a squad player for us. There are loads of Platts around - Toto Schillaci - Karel Poborsky - not really the sort of players with the career comparisons I was seeking to make.
Amos.
Icing on the cake, cherry on top, underlined, whatever analogy you wanna use - they reached the heady heights courtesy of performing on the world stage, not the domestic ones.
shewore
That's just not true - they were only able to perform on the world stage because of their club achievements and Giggs, Best and others never did. With the development of international club competitions over the last 20 years or so it is even less necessary now than ever before to appear in international competition at all in order to come to the attention of global audiences.
Amos.
Broadening the argument's fair enough, do we remember more Zidane's volley in the CL final 2001 (?) more than his double in the WC Final? Modern day the attention of global audiences as you put it is obviously easier through so many reasons. But Maradona winning the WC single handedly, Pele's brilliance, synonymous with the international stage. I put it wrong above when i said that's how they "reached" it, they reached it through domestic form, but they reached the audiences of the world in world cups - which was always the pinnacle. Which sadly isn't anymore. Still say Best isn't mentioned with Pele / Maradona cos he never got the chance to do this thing on the world stage.
shewore
If you take England away from Stuart Pearce, his lengthy domestic career didn't really add up to much. However, he will talk to you at length about playing at Wembley during Eurp 96. Pat Bonner's greatest football memories are ALL based on International duty. His club career turned out to be a disappointment to him, but he still had his beloved Eire. David Platt started his Italian ' journey ' in Bari, and he constantly improved his status. Each club he joined was a step up for him, and he even represented a true GIANT of the game with Juve. All this was possible on the back of his displays for England. I don't think they really went to watch him at Crewe or Aston Villa.
Cockney Rich
David Platt was PFA Player of the year before Italia '90. I doubt that he would be as well recognised in Italian football as in the English game. Even so if you were to take a broad cross section of football support in this country I would reckon most would place someone like Matt Le Tissier above Platt despite his greater international credits. Likewise Platt won as much with Arsenal as Charlie George did but is his international achievements enough to place him above Charlie in the minds of Arsenal supporters? Best won the European Cup in '68 and was European footballer of the year so it isn't as though he missed out on international recognition altogether even over 40 years ago before the advent of global TV audiences on their present and increasing scale. The need for players at the top clubs to play in international tournaments is decreasing. It's now possible on club football alone to achieve world recognition. Players need to keep that in mind before they overburden themselves with international commitments.
Amos.
"It's now possible on club football alone to achieve world recognition." - the perfect example of this is Cronaldo who, had he played in the 60s/70s/80s, would never have reached the global fame he has today. "Players need to keep that in mind before they overburden themselves with international commitments." - a fair comment but I think shewore pointed to something that a lot of fans who dismiss int'l football don't take into account: how the player feels about playing for his country. Many, maybe most, take it very seriously and for them it means a great deal--even more than club football. For so many fans club football is more important (and it's where the best quality football is played anyway) but for the players, int'l football means so much. Re Scholes, just have to say this: I am sick to death of this yearly media worship of him into some godlike figure (Giggs too).
jaelle
Jaelle - you really should blog / write articles (if you don't already!)
shewore
One can only guess, but I genuinely can't think of many players that I think really give me the impression that int'l football matters to them. I'd concede it strikes me as slightly different for South American players, who tend to leave their leagues and their countries early in their career. But even then, when one looks at the sort of squads you get in the Copa America; the bigger players don't exactly bang on the door to play. Platitudes and what players feel pressured to say is one thing, but I think on the whole, the behaviour shows something else entirely.
Little Dutch
Just a few questions for Amos and LD. I was wondering if you can tell me how many footballers have died for their clubs? Were you born Arsenalish? A footballer has a contractual obligation to work for his employers but that, in the end, is all it is no matter how much affection he has for that organization. A footballer can change his club by handing in a transfer request. But he can't change who he is at the most base, primitive of levels. He can't change his culture, his language is his language, however fluently he masters another tongue, and his home and his friends and his community are a huge part of him whether his plays for Barcelona or Bangor United. In other words, country has always, and will always, come before club, even if a few non-descript footblahs descide they'd rather wife swap instead of feel a sense of pride. You're like children blithely discussing matters you simply can't comprehend. You're children.
Tony Rocky Horror
..and you're pre-natal. At the most base primitive of levels there are no countries - just political constructions - artificial flags. Of course you can change culture, language, community. You can make friends anywhere and everywhere. You can build your family wherever you are permitted and inclined to and love where you choose to do so greater than where you parents did so. Even children blithely discussing matters such as these show an infinitely greater capacity for comprehension than you do. You're unconscious.
Amos.
Coming from an individual such as yourself who has such limited capacity for perception and compassion that he sees the human being as nothing more than an economic resource primed for exploitation. You think in straight lines, parrot cliches about duty, responsibility and obligation, but you fail to appreciate that these are recieved ideas in themselves, learned paradigms that block the life-force of the unconscious. You are a programmed mechanoid and engaging in discourse with you is positively debilitating. You mind is a host for negative inclinations.
Tony Rocky Horror
Just want to say "ditto" to everything Amos wrote in reply to our resident stalker troll. BTW, on the rare occasion that I will refer to this particular troll, I will use the word "praga" as nomenclature. "praga" is a Portuguese word that means an ugly, blood-sucking, revolting little bug that plants itself onto the skin of human beings and animals (it's worse than a tick and definitely uglier). // LD, I think there are lots of players like LDiarra for whom int'l football means a lot. I can't agree that Clichy, Henry, Bergkamp, Ljunberg, Cesc take int'l football lightly. I concede, tho, that there are players for whom it doesn't mean very much regardless of what they say in public. I know lots of England fans think their big name players don't care much about it regardless of their public comments but I've always wondered why--if they really don't care about it--why are they so willing to tolerate all the abuse they get by continuing to play for England? They could just retire like Scholes and Carragher. Look at Theo--int'l football means so much to him he wants to play for both senior & youth teams. // shewore, appreciate your sentiments, I've occasionally written football pieces in Portuguese and on a couple of US blogs but very rarely. I'm just not disciplined enuf to write regularly.
jaelle
From someone with such a narrow, parochial, provincial view of your world I shouldn't expect you to be able to think in anything other than the straight, mechanical lines you accuse me of but betray just those characteristics yourself in your posts. Your inability to see that it is just your insular, chauvinistic view of the world that is responsible for the exploitation of human beings throughout history would make the BNP, and other incarnations of the same thought process, proud to have you on board
Amos.
Regardless of my considerations re the players' feelings, my own view of int'l football is that it reflects an anachronistic way of looking at the world. I don't believe in any empirical legitimacy of national boundaries, the free movement of labor and immigration merely reflects the inherent weakness of those boundaries. I'm amused at the histrionics among some Europeans when an immigrant or child of an immigrant is recruited for their national team (esp. when igots deny those immigrants their authenticity as Germans or Frenchmen--even when those players were born & raised in those countries). Henry Winter's hilarious article in today's Telegraph about Arteta being called up for England is an example. It's an obsession with ethnic/racial purity of the national team - as if such a thing exists. The German rightwing hated their natl team in S.Africa because it had Poles, Turks & a Brazilian. That Brazilian, Cacau, has played and lived in Germany since he was 18 (he's 29 now) and sings the German national anthem loudly and fluently--something many of the "authentically" German players don't do. Right now in Brazil there's talk about recruiting Fluminense's playmaker into the nat'l team--he's Argentinian. So far no one's pontificating about what a horrible idea it is.
jaelle
OT: this is one of the best articles I've seen in the English media on Theo - http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/sport/duncanwhite/100011918/arsenal-criticism-of-theo-walcott-misses-the-point/
jaelle
I think the football calendar is now so crowded for players that they don't "not care" about internationsl per se, I just don't think they greet them with any sort of excitement. Hence the many injury pull outs, the half hearted performances. I think it's a case of overkill as much as anything. The world is changing and the need for flag waving is eroding more and more- and that reflects in players who make calculated career choices for international football and choose not to represent their nation. Whether it's like Vieira and they're born in Senegal, but know playing for France is a more attractive career option. Or whether they're like Mark Lawrenson (who extraordinarily, said on MOTD that Arteta playing for England wouldn't be right) who aren't good enough to play for their country, so take a step down and adopt another nation. (Lawrenson was born in Preston but played for Eire). I don't blame players like Kevin Prince Boateng suddenly deciding their Ghanian because the chance to put himself in the shop window at the World Cup came up; but it does rather make a mockery of the concept- which I believe to be redundant.
Little Dutch
Why Gallas signed for spurs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLHDzqTKajM&feature=youtu.be
jaelle
The point about the "racial purity" of the England team is a very good one jaelle, and the hypocrisy is laughable. John Barnes and Owen Hargreaves smashed that glass ceiling in the England side some time ago. But oh, o.k, we grudgingly accepted black players in the England team (not after Cyrille Regis and the like had bullets mailed to their home addresses) so Barnes is o.k. Hargreaves is Canadian and, well, they're just like Englishmen aren't they? They look and sound a bit like us, plaus Owen doesn't do many interviews so we don't have to listen to his funny accent too much. But what's this? An olive skinned Spic? No, nay, never! In 20 years England's refusal to pick Arteta will be greeted with the same mirth as England's refusal to take part in the World Cup until the 1950s. The U.S. National side is another prime example of a team embracing its melting pot of cultures and communities to great effect- both sportingly and "politically."
Little Dutch
*they're Ghanian
Little Dutch
Exactly, LD. There was a time in the US when black athletes were not considered "authentic" Americans. Now any immigrant of whatever age who becomes a US citizen and wants to represent the US at the Olympics or the world cup or any other int'l venue is welcomed without any questions. Of course, some of that old sentiments still exists--last year some guy in Arizona established a whites-only basketball league, saying American basketball had been taken over completely by black players. Vieira's case is instructive-he was born in Senegal, yes. But he emigrated to France at the age of 8, he never played in Senegal. He was raised, educated, trained in France. He's visited Senegal only 2 or 3 times in his life, always for brief stays. That doesn't mean he feels no affinity for Senegal. But he spent almost his entire life (before moving for football reasons) in France--and it was France who gave him his football education. So why is it that he is more Senegalese than French? Why is he not "authentically" French?
jaelle
England for the English http://www.wsc.co.uk/content/view/1263/29/
jaelle
Amos, I forgot to mention earlier how well written your article was, and how much I enjoyed reading it. As usual Sir, you brilliantly backed up all your arguments.
Cockney Rich
I take your point on Vieira's nationality. But if Senegal are a footballing superpower in contention for World Cups and African Nations wins and France are international minnows with one World Cup appearance behind them in their history, which country do you think he opts to represent?
Little Dutch
That's a great pick jaelle. The attitudes expressed in that article you linked to are spot on. It amazes me that we can be so blind to what others can see and then so critical of them for seeing it. That it was a view taken 4 years ago of attitudes that have prevailed for so long and is no less relevant now is pretty funny - but quite sad too.
Amos.
The time for flag waving is over. Not quite yet, thankfully. But the time will come when it is. The time will come when there are no bounderies, no borders, and everyone lives in a shagra-la of contentment. Or it'll turn into a one world goverment fascist superstate that Orwell decribes in his books. Still, as long as you all still support Arsenal, there's no problem, is there?
Tony Rocky Horror
TRH - as you alluded to, yes, we all support Arsenal. That's why we are on here. What exactly is YOUR reason ?
Cockney Rich
I think you'll need to read Orwell again to properly understand just how he got where he did and why TRH. I don't hold out much hope of you getting there though.
Amos.
To agree or disagree with the sentiments expressed. I support Tottenham Hotspur.
Tony Rocky Horror
I've had the fortune to be exposed to a lot of Orwell during my education and beyond. Seeing TRH try to invoke him reminded me of a passage I read in one of Orwell's essays a few years back; "In certain kinds of writing, particularly criticism, it is normal to come across long passages which are almost completely lacking in meaning." Sums it up to a tee where TRH is concerned.
Little Dutch
I think the problem is just the opposite. I think you understand very clearly what i'm saying, but you simply aren't man enough to admit it infront of your peer group. Hey ho, some of us have balls...
Tony Rocky Horror
And some of us have brains.
Little Dutch
I see that this is your latest tactic: to attempt to discredit what i say by dismissing it as stupid. You're really very tiresome. Is that what the 'girlfriend' said when she chucked ya?
Tony Rocky Horror
The sad thing is that you actually think these sad wind up posts will have me flying into a rage for your amusement.
Little Dutch
The sadder thing (or maybe more accurately amusing thing) is that even TRH probably knows he's talking complete and utter bollox. If he really can't see the paradox between 1984 and his parochial view of the world and the exploitation of humans then if he does have any balls they are where his brain should be. Sitting on benches and shouting at buses does sum him up extraordinarily well.
Amos.
Well written piece Amos and a very interesting debate (until the stalker walked in at least. @TRH - I'm asking nicely, please don't come back here. thanks!) Anyway, back to point. Another element i'd like to add is the farcical way that the regime known as Fifa has turned the int'l scene into a money whore where their only intentions are to exploit and extract provisions for their own satisfaction. For me they have ruined the spectacle of int'l competitions and like a disease turned black and sucked dry eny enjoyment i once had from watching the best players in the world grace a football pitch. Also, since the emergence of the EPL as a giant in money making streams, and hence the investment of world class players our appetite to see the best football possible is being satisfied at home (so to speak), and the world cup and other int'l comps only seem to distract us or at best fill a void. I think the hope of returning to a successful int'l scene where football is played for the good of the people is not completely lost but for that to happen Fifa, and Uefa for that matter must evolve. Or maybe Die & be reborn would be better.
insider says
Surely you cant criticise the media for only focusing on the negative remarks about Theo Walcott, to then 5 sentences later single out Alan Hansen only his negative comments, ignoring the fact he also called him "A fantastic talent" in the same programme.
HuddersfieldYiddo
Nothing wrong with pointing out the cant in Hansen's criticism having made exactly the same point about Waddle's for precisely the same reason. It clearly wasn't intended as an examination of Hansens opinion of Walcott simply highlighting the sanctimony in making that particular criticism from his particular position.
Amos.
Hi there Hud. I don't really want to drag this debate so far off topic, but i'd say to your question that our (or mine at least) annoyance with Hanson is with the invalidity of his negative comment. I'd point you in the direction of the very interesting article linked to by jaelle above - http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/sport/duncanwhite/100011918/arsenal-criticism-of-theo-walcott-misses-the-point/ We're hardly going to write an article or blog about how wonderful it is for Hanson to say something nice about Theo are we? Well maybe if he does so while conceeding he was wrong all along, but i still doubt it.
insider says
International footballs a crock of *****. Look at the World Cup just passed, a team of players won a trophy for a country a majority of them don't even won't to be a part of.
Ozi Gooner
Have to laugh at Amos' arguing about 'choosing' when to answer the call of international duty this week after last week arguing there was no way Cesc could of excused himself from the callup to play Mexico.
Ozi Gooner
The whole argument about how players earn their reputation is dated. The fact is that when Pele, Best, etc., - even Maradona - earnt their reputations, you and me had no real way of watching them play club football, so it is obvious why their reputations were earned off the back of international glories when it was the only football really shown to the whole world. Many people eulogise Best's talents, now I have no doubt he was a brilliant player, but how many of these people outside of the UK seen him more than fleetingly? Not many. These days club football is almost as readily available to the viewer as a WC. You can watch games from all round the world on satelite down the pub, or with a click of the mouse on your laptop from home. Club football is becoming more and more the barometer of who the greatest players are in this modern era of accessible football, and the only people who don't seem to understand this are the ones handing out the Balloon d'Or. Any Arsenal fan arguing differently might want to have a think about how agrieved they were when Henry was overlooked for the aforementioned award due to the international performances of others.
Ozi Gooner
So does international football have a place in the modern game anymore, now or in the future? With the increasingly grey area between who is eligible to play for whichever country, and the growth in power and dominance of club football it's (int'l football) importance is tapering. Let's not kid ourselves here, Money is the be all and end all behind the game now until the supporters get a majority say. The world cup these days is held together through giant sponsors blanketing a nation and our television screens in a monopoly which in my eyes should only breed rebellion. But that's not the point. For int'l football to regain credence it must work for and benefit the people, globally through entertainment and locally through sponsorship and development. Not feeding the few as it does now. However, in the future it's highly probable clubs will be bypassing the t.v companies and start broadcasting their own games on their own terms. This has been the aim of certain clubs for a while and once again arsenal leads the way with it's vision. It may take many years and it probably won't turn out how i predict but once the game and the power that surrounds it changes hands the consortium of clubs will direct how these competitions will fair in the future. It's hard to see where int'l football will stand, but it's going to be interesting finding out.
insider says
On the player front the int'l stage is not what it used to be for reasons already attested to by Ozi and others above. A players motivation to play for his/a country has evolved over time. It began as an allegiance to his motherland playing to beat an opponent, much like a peaceful and playful substitute to war. This is where the phrase "to die for.." has meaning. Country vs country or club vs club it's the same thing just wider or higher stratums. It then evolved with the help of televisation into a stage for the individual to become famous on a wider and wider geographical scale. The sentimental allegiance remained but held less importance and today i think we see the evidence of that in the increasing number of players hanging up their int'l boots with years to play still. Allegiances have already been brought into question when we see players adopt other nationalities to their place of birth. I'm not saying this shouldn't be allowed, as to me it's just a line in the sand, and as the tribe became a village became a town etc we are now a global community. But in football terms and for the longevity of int'l football we must remain tribal. In effect the balance between allegiance and fame is wrong for int'l football to succeed in the long term.
insider says
Not quite the same thing Ozi. The earlier issue was whether Cesc could have thrown a sickie for the Mexico game the other week and still have been available for the Arsenal game following it. Under Fifa statutes he couldn't have done - he'd have made himself unavailable for both games. Anyone can choose whether they play international football or not it simply depends on how much importance they attach to their international careers. Though I understand why many do my case is that it needn't be very much.
Amos.
feck off , TRH.. Go jump in a deep well full of *****.. On a separate note, where's squillaci?
shady gunna
LD, point taken re Vieira's choice of country to represent but I guess I'm not as cynical as you are about it. There are plenty of players like Freddie Kanoute and Didier Drogba who have the option of choosing more successful countries (in both cases, they each could've chosen France) but who choose to represent their country of birth or their parents' birth (Kanoute's parents come from Mali). Zidane first chose to represent Algeria (he was born and raised in Marseille) and tried out for their national team, but they wouldn't take him (they said he was too slow). Had the Algerian national coach at the time taken him, Zidane's career would've been very different.
jaelle
As Dr. Chomsky says; "If you're not cynical, you're not apying attention." Drogba chose Ivory Coast in his Guingamp days when he wouldn't have got within a pitcher's putt of the France side. Kanoute too was never going to be selected for France in the era of Henry, Trezeguet, Anelka, Wiltord, Saha and, errr, Steve Marlet. Kanoute waited a long time before making the Mali call. I think he fluttered his eyes at France whilst at Spurs and in his mid 20s but saw there was no dice. Didn't know that about Zizou though.
Little Dutch
Here is an interesting read http://www.goal.com/en/news/9/england/2010/08/24/2084938/how-new-arsenal-signing-sebastien-squillaci-compares-to
Arseniger
LD - then why play for Mali or Ivory Coast AT ALL then? You can't argue that Kanoute will get much attention on the int'l stage playing for Mali. Why bother even playing for Mali if he can't get into the France team? I'll concede your point that he might've preferred playing for France but obviously int'l football still meant something to him if he wanted to play in int'l tournaments representing a country that doesn't even do well in its own region.
jaelle
Because it would raise their profile more than not playing for Mali or Ivory Coast. Their decisions were still essentially selfish.
Little Dutch
*sigh* I won't argue this anymore, LD. I still believe many, if not most, players consider int'l football very important to them regardless of who they play for--for the personal prestige, if nothing else. The routinely talk about how it feels to put on the national team shirt. The importance of nationalities is still important to many of them and tournaments like the ACN, the wc, the Euros mean a lot to them. I may personally not consider national boundaries all that significant but they do. BTW, did you all see this Daily Mail article written by our manager? http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-1305558/Arsene-Wenger-Why-time-England-host-2018-World-Cup.html
jaelle
I'd find international football more acceptable if it were constructed so as not to burden players and clubs as much as it does at times. Most friendlies serve no real purpose in building a team - you can't run a national team as a club side. Just pick the best players in the best playing form 2 weeks before a tournament - Euro's or World Cup only - every couple of years and leave them be in between. Forget the qualifiers - seed the bigger teams and draw the rest out of a hat.
Amos.
 

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