Throughout the course of the season, managerial rows are ten
a penny, so to see bosses united in agreement over something is rather special.
That certainly seems to be the case concerning this week's round
of international friendlies.
After all, I can't imagine too many of them would disagree that
England's game against Holland is a complete
waste of time.
It doesn't make any sense whatsoever to play such a
meaningless game just three days before the start of the new Premier League
Who sanctioned the game in Amsterdam? I really don't know, but I'm sure
Fabio Capello will struggle to get anything from it.
And I'd be surprised if Bert van Marwijk does either, since Holland have qualified
for the World Cup and the Dutch league is already underway.
With the Premier League campaign due to start on Saturday,
players should be with their clubs and focusing on their first league game of
the season, not travelling to Amsterdam for a friendly run-out from which there
is little to gain.
Indeed, there are likely to be more losers than winners from
a match like this.
It's a dangerous game to play in so close to the start of
the new season, and most club managers will be concerned that some of their key
players will return on Thursday nursing injuries.
It is in some players' nature to give their all, even in a
meaningless friendly. Can you imagine Wayne Rooney holding back in a 50-50
challenge on Wednesday? Alex Ferguson will be having kittens.
Even if it were their wont, players cannot afford to take it
easy in friendlies - if they do and they are caught thinking of the weekend's
game, they'll be hammered for it, by fans and the press alike.
Steven Gerrard, another 100 per cent or nothing man, has opted
for the latter option this time round - and I'm sure it'll prove to be a beneficial
decision. So much so, it will come as no surprise if he manages to shrug off
his tweaked groin in time to turn out for Liverpool
at Tottenham on Sunday fully fit, focused and raring to go.
Had this game been arranged over the summer or as part of pre-season
a couple of weeks ago, the FA would have been able to justify it a little more
easily. Certainly it would have been far more beneficial to the players fitness-wise.
But the poor timing of the match will only serve to interrupt
their preparation for the new season, anger their employers and deteriorate the
relationship between clubs and the national set up.
Friendly matches are supposed to help national teams' causes
in qualifying for and competing at major tournaments.
But do England
players really need another game under their belts before their next
competitive outing against Croatia?
I don't think so. By September, the players will be buzzing from
having started the season, their fitness levels will be great and considering their
position in the group, the team will be in high spirits.
Far better to take all those positives into that game at
Wembley, rather than running the risk of a damp squib in Amsterdam having a costly
and negative effect on team morale.