Why the Premier League need to establish a better relationship with the FA

by admin

Sunday, February 13th, 2011

The nature of international friendlies always seems to invite continual disdain from football fans.

While they are part and parcel of the international schedule, questions are raised about the inconvenient timing of them, and why those representing their country seem to play a bit part in them.

This was evident when England flew to Denmark to take part in a meaningless friendly, albeit they won 2-1.

A lot of the pre-match build up surrounded the absentees rather than who was actually playing- Steven Gerrard pulled out with a groin injury and Gabriel Agbonlahor cited ‘personal reasons’ for not flying with the team to Denmark.

Even those that did start, some were pulled off to make way for others to impress Fabio Capello.

Having a friendly at the business end of the Premier League season doesn’t seem to make much sense, and fatigue can take its toll in a demanding season when some players have to balance European commitments alongside performing at their optimum in the league week in week out.

But maybe the fact that representing the national team has been seen nowadays as being a rite of passage rather than a privilege doesn’t help matters- what it serves to do is demean the character of international football.

England U-21s manager Stuart Pearce rammed home this point earlier this week when he suggested that the lines between international and club football have become blurred with club football seemingly taking a precedent over its international counterpart.

Arguably Pearce is on the right lines, as the Premier League has been selfish in recent years, and maybe it has championed the excellence of English football at the expense of the progress of international football.

Though England rallied well in their friendly, we did not learn too much about the potential rehabilitation of a team that is still trying to shake off the cob webs of an underwhelming World Cup campaign.

Winning breeds a winning mentality, but England need to prove this by going all the way in an international competition.

In stark contrast, the Spanish equivalent of the FA, The Spanish Federation (RFEF), seems to keep both club and country happy, and there is none of this wrapping players up in cotton wool that has become endemic of English football.

The Premier League needs to learn to compromise and establish a better relationship with the FA or else the international team will stagnate and fail to make significant progress in the future.

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