The future of football is at club level, not international. That is a bold statement, granted, but one I’d like to open with prior to an England vs. Wales fixture at Wembley.
England have just, with Smalling at right back, Rooney leading the line and Young providing ample support out wide, wiped Bulgaria aside and look set to walk their group. They’re, surely, going to walk over Wales on Tuesday too and, in turn, tease the English press into thinking they may actually do something in the Euros.
Anyway, I’m forgetting something. I’m Welsh! I should be looking at this article from a Welshman’s point of view and sussing out how Aaron Ramsey and co. could do a number over his Three Lioned counterparts. However, to be honest, I’m not that bothered. I’d love to see Wales beat England on Tuesday but when they lose I a) won’t be overly surprised and b) won’t be that upset.
For too many years Wales has had to endure phantom injuries that, mysteriously, last the exact length of an international window. Ryan Giggs, Aaron Ramsey, Craig Bellamy, Gareth Bale, all our best players have done it. In all honesty, who can blame them? Wales never threaten to qualify for tournaments yet their clubs play Premier League and Champions’ League football. We then come to the question ‘is Champions’ League football better than international tournaments’? and I can’t see an answer other than ‘no’!
Champions League football offers the best footballers in the world. So does the World Cup it could be argued. However, unlike the World Cup which spreads its players around based on fateful places of birth, squads and teams are built of players from all over the globe for Champions’ League teams. I genuinely believe that Manchester United, Barcelona, Inter, et al. would do better in World Cups than England, Spain and Italy. There’s more understanding amongst club team mates, there’s more togetherness too. The quality of club football nowadays is as high as football has ever been. Barcelona are being touted as the best club side ever and, if they are, for me that means they are the best football side ever.
I’m not the only one in Wales who favours club football to national. The attendance for the Montenegro game was a paltry 8,000 at the Cardiff City Stadium. The next time Cardiff play at home, in the same stadium, I can assure you they’ll at least double that attendance. In Scotland, we saw Darren Fletcher using a national fixture as a game to gain match fitness! Dimitar Berbatov and Ryan Giggs don’t play international football anymore whilst still playing Premiership and Champions’ League football, Craig Bellamy only plays competitive games and Ben Foster won’t play for England at all!
To finish this little moan off I only have to point at Sky Sports News this week. Anyone who watches it as regularly as me would have seen where their main attentions and interests were this week. Wales’ match against England at Wembley? Lampard’s omission from the England starting XI? Nah, it was Jim White’s transfer deadline day for club football. Says it all really…
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