The Curse of the International Break
It’s the same old story. Your team is on their best run of form for 10 years and don’t look like getting beaten, then the International Break hits and that momentum is lost.
October 4th, 2013
I’m pretty certain Arsene Wenger won’t be looking forward to next weekend’s International break. His Arsenal side are hitting what has to be one of their most impressive runs of form in all competitions for years, or at least since talisman Robin Van Persie left the club for Manchester, all without Theo Walcott & Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Everything Aaron Ramsey seems to hit at the minute is flying into the top corner, and Olivier Giroud is starting to recreate his Montpellier form and look like the striker Arsenal desperately needed last season to fill the Van Persie sized hole in their attack. Both players have 4 goals in the league this campaign and have helped catapult Arsenal to the top of the table; without them they’d be 11th.
So why is the break so bad? Well, if the players can carry their form into the international matches then great. However, the gulf in the quality of teammates is apparent. Instead of Mesut Özil supplying him with pinpoint passes, Aaron Ramsey is more likely to have Leicester’s Andy King and Brighton’s Andrew Crofts supporting him. Hardly inspiring. Not only that, but there is an increased risk of injury. The international game is played at the quickest pace of all the levels, and with two games in 5 days there are likely to be strains and sprains galore.
Factor in flying to the other end of the continent, fatigue and the possibility of a poor performance and you can see why a manager might not want to let their prized assets go away. However it’s not all bad news. An international break might work in a clubs favour. If you’re on a poor run of form, such as Sunderland’s current plight, the chance for players to represent their country, the possibility of going home to see family and a good performance in front of their own countrymen could be the boost a they need to rejuvenate their mind and body, and be up for the fight. It also gives the chance for injured players to get back to full fitness, with Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers hoping three of his stars will be back when the Premier League resumes.
There is a mixed reaction from managers when it comes to the International breaks. Sir Alex Ferguson often welcomed them as an opportunity for some much needed respite for his Manchester United sides, whereas Neil Lennon was unhappy at the timing of Scotland’s friendly with England in August. For me the International break is a necessary evil. We need qualifying campaigns for us to be able to enjoy the big tournaments like the World Cup and The Euro’s, but it also means we go without football from the top leagues for two weeks and teams who have been flying stagnate, which is harmful to the domestic game. For now we’ll just have to sit back and hope England can get the results needed to qualify for Rio de Janeiro whilst waiting for the Premier League to return.