The hierarchy of football has completely turned on it’s head. Back in the day England or your national side was a priority in a player’s career, who would do anything to represent their country. It wasn’t about money, it was about honour, respect and privilege. To wear your countries crest on your chest used to be the ultimate accolade. Times have changed and as we see an end to the ‘will they, won’t they’ saga with Jack Wilshere and Andy Carroll and their non-selection in the England U21 squad for the summer, it seems the credibility of international football is dying out.
Club vs country rows are becoming more and more of a problem. Premier League managers regularly object to certain players being selected. How is this affecting the national team?
Well England have been quite the success story of late haven’t they? I mean World Cup winners, European Championship winners and the top team in the FIFA world rankings … oh wait, sorry I got England confused with Spain. The Spanish national team are currently the benchmark for international football and I rarely hear of any particular problems regarding player selection for the national team at any level.
Stars like Puyol, Capdevila, David Villa, have played under 21’s, Fernando Torres, Iker Casillas and Andreas Iniesta have played at every level from under 15’s to under 21’s and the second most capped Under 21 player for Spain ever is Xavi. They don’t seem to have an issue with integrating under 21’s in to the full senior side or promoting the benefits of under 21 football. Holland have a similar mentality to Spain as do the German’s and recent performances have highlighted the positives.
After a golden generation came and went, Germany needed to rebuild and rebuild they did. They managed to produce a new generation of superstars to supplement the older players in the national squad. The majority of this ‘new breed’ that was so successful in the World Cup in South Africa had played and won the Under 21 European championships the summer before. The majority of their side now is made up from former under 21 players.
With the news that Wilshere and Carroll won’t be travelling to this summer’s European Championships in Denmark with the rest of the team, it highlights a serious problem with the system in this country regarding domestic clubs and the national teams.
If reports are correct Wenger used Prozone to show Wilshere how his performance stats have dropped off over recent weeks and pointed to fatigue as the reason. Wenger scared Wilshere in to thinking he could be at risk of injury and Jack now believes this is the case.
For me this highlights how managers now do not take the national game seriously. There is a massive conflict of interests between club team managers and the national team manager (both the U21 and senior teams). There is so much at stake for the clubs now that domestic results are more important than anything else.
Wenger’s worry over Wilshire’s fitness has increased after Arsenal failed to secure an automatic Champions League spot; he now has a very important couple of games in August.
One minute Wilshere forced the issue and said he wanted to play this summer, the next a 360. Well if Wenger gave him the ultimatum that if he plays this summer he will have to rest him next season, his pre-season routine will be different and he could struggle to regain his place and be fit next season. The threat would make anyone think twice. Whether this is what he said or not, Wenger is only acting in the interests of Arsenal and not England.
Maybe this is a problem with foreign managers not having any allegiance to the England national side. Their job and interests lie with their clubs side. Their side employ them and pay their wages to win and also to develop talent. They will develop talent in a way they see fit, they will also have more control over the player – why would they care about their players playing for the national side, it only puts their players at risk and ultimately it could affect their job.
But what if Wilshere bypassing the under 21’s ends up changing him as a person? After all he is ‘too important’ to play for the under 21’s. It is easy for someone to start off their career as a humble teenager. A lot of players have started out like this before being sucked in to the life of a professional footballer. Wayne Rooney is one, and how about Ryan Giggs? It is important that Wilshere realises his talent, but what if by missing this experience he becomes a ‘big time Charlie’? This could threaten his development more than playing this tournament.
England national football at any level has never been about money or business. It is the purest form of football left. For years the players have donated their match fee’s to charity instead of keeping the money. This started because it should be a honour to play for your country and is not a money matter. It is completely different to the day to day relationship they have with their clubs and domestic manager, who shouldn’t make them chose between club and country.
Wilshere and Carroll won’t feature this summer, therefore England won’t have the best chance of winning the tournament as we need our best eligible players. For me this is a sign that the credibility of international football has gone, managers don’t respect it, players are caught in the middle and this only has a negative effect on our national side. I can see the international scene extinct as players become even more of a precious commodity to their clubs. Managers moan about friendlies and selections so we may as well just scrap international football and just have the Premier League.