Date: 13th October 2008 at 5:03pm
Written by:

Martin O’Neill has suggested that the second game during international breaks should take place on a Tuesday to give the players an extra days break.

Speaking to the official site, O’Neill used the example of Stiliyan Petrov who has the lovely journey from Georgia to Birmingham to make after Bulgaria’s next match, but then still has to prepare for the Pompey game.

‘The players on international duty don’t have the break that the non-internationals do and they have to come back at very late hours.

‘For instance, Stiliyan Petrov plays the second game of his international week on Wednesday night in Georgia.

‘He then has to travel back because we play Portsmouth on Saturday. Those are the obvious concerns of a club manager but I wouldn’t be alone in that.

‘There’s talk – and I think it’s a good idea – of playing the second game on a Tuesday. I don’t think many people would disagree with that because it gives you the extra day.

‘We were lucky with the last international break because we didn’t play Tottenham until the Monday night. We got the extra two days which was very beneficial for us.

‘The downside of that was that we played on the Monday, had the UEFA Cup game in Bulgaria on the Thursday night and then an early morning derby against West Brom on the Sunday.

‘So that added up to three games in six days. It’s swings and roundabouts.

‘But generally, if you had an extra day that would give players the extra time to get home from fairly lengthy distances away.

‘It would give them added preparation time and I think everyone would be happy.’

I see the issue as being far clearer than that though myself. International football is a tradition, it’s a novelty and for most fans counts for very little.

In the old days it was right for Country to come before Club, but back then International friendlies and competitions weren’t designed to be money spinners – they actually meant something.

Thesedays it’s simply a way of fleecing more cash, so the attitude of club over country has to win through.

International arrangments should be made to fit around players and clubs calenders. Clubs and their players should not suffer at any point yet sadly that still isn’t the case.

The pointless breaks for friendlies, forcing those players who do have a long trip into trying to rest and prepare in 2 days only and so on.

It would actually be interesting if you could poll each ground in the country and find out how many fans actually have any interest in their National Team.

I would be surprised if the result wasn’t a concern for the FA.