Thursday, 1 March 2012

If football is beautiful, friendlies are prostitutes.

I don't think I have to expand much on that title.

Honestly, it was an OK game of football, but international "friendlies" - which is a STUPID name - remain superfluous. Ironically, like this blog, so is the word superfluous.

I had quite an evening last night. First, some **** (I will keep my opinions private until all the insurance stuff is sorted) went into the back of my girlfriends car. And then I had some Nando's. I have now mentioned Nando's in two of my posts, if that isn't worth a black card, I'm not sure what is. The only reason I started this blog was to become famous, and the only reason I want to be famous is to have delicious, free, perfectly-cooked chicken, available in most large towns, ready for my enjoyment at any time.

So I'd already had a big night when I came home to see the thrill-a-minute (from minutes 57 to 58 and minutes 85 to 91) match between England and Holland or the Netherlands...whichever works for you. Incidentally, I started watching from the 56th minute, so all those at Wembley - except Chris Smalling - you can thank me thatsomething actually happened. But despite all the action, the whole game was flat. It was like a Nicholas Cage film, lots of action, lots of twists, but ultimately shit.

The problem is, most international friendlies are. I know that in the build-up to a major tournament, teams wish to experiment with players and get a good set-up, but wouldn't it be better to scrap them, finish the season two weeks earlier and let teams have more friendlies prior to said tournament? Then again, football is run by Sepp Blatter, so I won't hold my breath.

All England friendlies these days take on the same pattern. The same players get mysterious injuries/knocks right before/during the match and players like Frazier Campbell, Joleon Lescott and Kevin Davies get games, which of course provides plenty of information about England's best XI. Fans of smaller clubs then moan about their players not being selected, saying things like "what have Grant Holt, Danny Graham or Emile Heskey got to do to get a call-up?" The answer is of course, be good enough, but that doesn't matter. If England win, cue mass hysteria and proclamations of England's standing as genuine tournament contenders. If England lose, cue moaning about how England players don't have pride in the shirt, something about Wembley/Wayne Rooney or the sycophantic eulogising over the one player who did OK, usually Phil Jones, Theo Walcott or Adam bloody Johnson.

Aside from annoying me, friendlies are simply taking on the role of World Ranking calculator, while meaningless factors like tournaments are overlooked. ENGLAND ARE RANKED FIFTH IN THE WORLD! FIFTH?! Then again, their recent tournament record backs this up:

Euro 2008: LOL
World Cup 2010: Slightly less lol

Yes, international football is pretty poor right now, but come on, England are not that good. Don't give me "oh, given the chance, Daniel Sturridge and Ashley Young could be world-class" nonsense. Sturridge can't finish a sentence and Young can't cross the road. As is the case every year, England have two good players, seven decent ones, and two other blokes such as: Phil Neville, Steve McManaman, Gareth Barry, Paul Ince, Trevor Sinclair, Gareth Barry, Glen Johnson, Gareth Barry etc etc. England are ranked above Italy, Brazil, Portugal, France and Argentina. All five countries have had problems, but would England beat them in a one-off game? Honestly?

Friendlies are also injury-lotteries. Who will get needlessly injured next time? For once, I feel sorry for Arsenal. Their players, shorn of the usually world-class physio facilities at the Emirates, travel far and wide across France and bits of Africa, only to come back with groin strains which, as we know, take months, even years to recover from. By the way Arsenal fans (and Russian readers, wink), Andrei Arshavin scored last night...I know, that's how bad international friendlies are!

What has last night taught us then? That I have some weird golden touch, whereby when I enter a room, apart from making women swoon, action suddenly happens in football? That drivers in Sutton are planks? That England may have found their best team in time for Euro 2012? Two of the above sentences are true, make your choice.

Thank God it's another few months before fans of decent clubs (sorry Norwich, Swansea and of course, Heskey lovers) have to cringe their way through matches, scared to death that some big Serbian bloke is going to clatter their centre midfielder, or their star striker goes over on his ankle or even worse, Gary Cahill is responsible for your interests, hopes and expectations for the evening. I love football, I even love international football, but I feel we can all do away with this nonsense. Some of us have clubs to lose sleep over. I say either scrap friendlies, use them as genuine proving grounds for young talent, or do some weird charity thing which Georgie Thompson can present.

Even if you agree to none of the above, that last point surely deserves some thinking.

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