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Daniel Brigham

Club vs country - you decide

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Here''s my latest Pink''Un blog which, on Lappinitup''s advice, I have posted here rather than linking to. After last week''s mauling I should probably just be in hiding mind you ...Anyway, it''s about club v country and what can be done to make international football more attractive. Apologies for the self-indulgent start ...And if attacking me on here doesn''t satisfy you enough, you can also attack me on twitter at @cricketer_dan.

I supported England before I supported Norwich City. As a bookish, nerdy child who was the designated librarian at my Primary School, the joy of football didn’t come to me until I was 8, when a fluke goal in PE made me realise that being good at footy got you way more friends than stacking books in the correct order (my popularity also wasn’t helped by a teacher making me ban pupils from obsessively looking at a biology book that had a drawing of a lady in the nip). That footballing awakening coincided with the 1990 World Cup, so my first memories are of Gary Linekar''s penalties against Cameroon and Chris Waddle’s spot-kick flying over the bar against Germany. The semi-final defeat made me cry, as well as giving me an early understanding that most tournaments are essentially an elongated series of penalty kicks. Shortly afterwards, my thoughts turned to Carrow Road (where, coincidentally, Waddle’s penalty ended up). Since then the balance of my support and allegiance has shifted to Norwich and away from England. I imagine most football fans feel this way. Club comes before country.When England recently played Ireland, how many of you would have taken Wes Hoolahan coming off the bench to score a winner over an England victory? It was only a friendly match, but a quick poll on Twitter suggested that most Norwich fans would would have preferred a Wes winner. So why do most fans cherish club over country?Well, John Terry hasn''t helped. But then, you can blame him for most things, from the banking crisis to Hollyoaks to Big Macs not being as big as they once were. It could also be a reaction to how the players treat playing for their country. Paul Scholes, England’s only truly great passer of the ball since Gazza, retired from international duty at 29. Alan Shearer, England’s only truly great elbower of a defender, packed it in at the same age. Ryan Giggs treats Wales like you would an auntie who only talks to you about her special creams for itchy scalps: occasional visits only. Michael Carrick and Ben Foster can’t decide which way their back is turned when it comes to England. Linekar, who has far more interesting things to say about football than any of the pundits he has to ask questions to on Match of the Day, said yesterday that the Premier League has a "disregard for the best interests" of the national team. And it''s true. Arsenal play Spurs and United play Liverpool mere days before England''s two World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine, matches they can barely afford to drop points in. Yet, because the Premier League looks down on England like Michel Roux with a pot noodle in front of him, there is no way those matches will be rescheduled for the benefit of the England team, despite the threat of them missing out on World Cup qualification. Instead, it is likely they will be moved a day closer to the England game in order to give Sky or BT a Sunday TV slot. The Premier League, Champions League and other top leagues across Europe have invested millions into make their competitions accessible, creating a culture where every week has a must-not-miss clash. You can see the evidence of Premier League’s dominance over the national team in the huge viewing figures, the column inches devoted to club football and the blogs and forums set up to talk all things domestic. It dwarves the amount that are dedicated to international footy.Like Apple, the marketing team at the Premier League, as well as Sky, have made people feel like they’re unpopular and unworthy of any human contact if they don''t buy into their product and don''t spend half their day obsessing and talking about it. In contrast, FIFA is incredibly bad at selling international football as a product. It is like the British Rail adverts of the 1980s, with the slogan ''We''re getting there''. They''re sort of embarrassed about it. So, in short, international football needs repackaging. The most attractive thing about world football is the World Cup. It creates more drama, more obsession and more passion than any club tournament can. And the secret to its success? The quick, sharp nature of it. So World Cup qualifying should replicate this. The much-longed for winter break should be implemented in January and the month used to play five qualifiers, with the remaining five played at the end of the season. Rather than qualifiers being dribbled across 18 months, creating two mini-tournaments turns them into events. The break in January allows most players to have a rest and stops international players from missing club matches. Some might grumble that this just means that the best players have to play more, but that''s the small price they have to pay for being among the handsomely paid elite of world football. The whole culture of international friendly matches also needs to change. The FA shot themselves in the foot when they rebuilt Wembley. Its legacy is that friendlies are now cash-cows for recouping the money they spent on the stadium. Instead, these games should be taken to the shires. England matches played at venues like St James''s Park, Molineux, Ashton Gate, St Mary’s and Carrow Road will reignite a genuine interest in the national team across the country. Without changes, international football will die. With increased global movement meaning that the whole concept of nations is changing in a shrinking world, in 50 years'' time international football may look very different to how it does now. But it shouldn''t be left to wilt. After all, do you really want to deprive 8-year-olds of the future the chance to burst into tears as an England player blasts another penalty over the bar?

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Thanks Dan,

Entertaining and thought provoking as usual.

England don''t even appear on the Norwich City radar as far as I''m concerned. Half the reason I find England so difficult to support is because I actually dislike players from other clubs - you mentioned Terry but there are plenty of others.

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"So why do most fans cherish club over country?"much like most music fans ''cherish'' Glastonbury over the Eurovision song contest"The much-longed for winter break should be implemented in January "what on earth are you drivelling on about ? there is NO longed for, other than in your deluded mind and if nothing else it would play havoc with the cash flows of non PL clubs and impose a massive burden on an already overcrowded season,  City had 6 games that would have had to be re-sheduled, add in te possibility of bad weather in December and it would be chaos"friendlies are now cash-cows" exactly, as is the rest of the nonsense - ran purely to prop up the FA and FIFA (Sebb Blatter and all), there is also a good reason players, managers and clubs do as much as possible to avoid being involved in this load of meaningless old bolox ..........because it is their club who pays the wages, picks up the bills trains the players etc etc that is what football is about

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Nice refreshing post for here.

I kind of see Norwich and England as two separate entities. Most of the time I''m really not bothered about England, as long as they qualify for the major tournaments.

When they roll round, for the 3-4 weeks once every two years, Norwich take a back seat and I become a big England fan (and sometimes Ireland too) no matter what the squad.

As an exiled canary, it''s nice for them few weeks to be surrounded by people supporting the same team as me, even if it always does end in tears.

If i had the money, i''d be the first on the plane to Brazil for the upcoming World Cup (should we qualify).

What may be interesting this time is that Norwich might well have a few players there depending on who we sign and our success this season.

Imagine Wes there, Bassong there, RVW there and any new signings there. It can only add to the fun.

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[quote user="Daniel Brigham"]The whole culture of international friendly matches also needs to change. The FA shot themselves in the foot when they rebuilt Wembley. Its legacy is that friendlies are now cash-cows for recouping the money they spent on the stadium. Instead, these games should be taken to the shires. England matches played at venues like St James''s Park, Molineux, Ashton Gate, St Mary’s and Carrow Road will reignite a genuine interest in the national team across the country.

[/quote]

 

Couldn''t agree more about this. When Wembley was being built and the matches were all around the country, everyone was wanting to go and watch England play. I even went to Portaloo Road to watch England Vs Croatia as it was "just down the road."

 

It gave the whole country an affordable opportunity to see their national team play and especially for the people up north who would never dream of travelling all the way to London for an England game, they had an opportunity to take their kids to see "the best English football had to offer."

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City 1st. I''m not quite sure how you can call me deluded for saying a winter break is longed for. If I was the only person who had ever suggested such a scenario, then yes I would be deluded, mad, stupid, dumb, wrong, whatever to call it longed for.

However, many managers including Hodgson, Mancini, Fergie, Martinez have repeatedly called for a winter break plus many fans have voiced a similar opinion. La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga, Ligue 1, Portuguesa Liga all having winter breaks. So this rather suggests that I''m far from deluded about this.

Or have I actually gone utterly mad and made the whole thing up?

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Don''t worry Dan. If City1st doesn''t agree with you then you''re in the wrong. That''s a fact.

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Genuinley no interest in England. Hate watching overrated players

wearing the white shirt just because they play for one of ''top'' sides.

When on form players from lower teams are sat at home

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Haven''t been able to take  England seriously since around 1972.  England set off on a run where they continually pick the wrong manager for the wrong reasons.   Brian Clough should have been given the job.  It was never going to happen and we all knew it, but could do nothing as the Sweet FA continued their old boys club act, which carries on to this day.   Great though 1990 was, even that success was more by luck than judgement.  Poor in 86, poor team selection in 1990 until Wilkins got injured and Beardsley got the starts - which many  had wanted, but it only happened by default.  Years and years of poor selection of managers.  Jack Charlton was an inspired choice for ROI.  Never in a million years would he have been considered for England manager - he just wouldn''t have fitted the "image" of what the FA would have wanted. Also, that Blatter is still at the head of FIFA is staggering, yet another reason why international football generally has lost so much credibility.  The combination of the way the FA and FIFA are run over the years is  archaic and has never been sorted out.   Until it is, international football will struggle, imo.   At least with club football - well our club, anyway - win or lose,  you can still relate to a certain extent to the club, the players and the owners.   

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An observation rather than a criticism - that is an arguable but very anglocentric assessment of club vs country, of Fifa and the World Cup and of the future of international football. The view looks vastly different in other parts of the world. Particularly those new or new/old nations where football is a means of creating and asserting an identity, as it was with cricket in the West Indies.

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Excellent post Daniel. Such a refreshing change from the Twitter rubbish and constant bickering on other threads.

I agree about the winter break proposal too, it''s been shown many times over the years that it is beneficial to a national team, and players in general. But cramming 5 internationals in may be slightly too much for the players involved. Spreading them out over a season is probably one thing the FA have got right. Except money making friendlies at the end of the season, they''re just there to pay the big bosses their bonuses.

As for the point made about players like Lambert and Holt being frozen out for the likes of Cambell and Welbeck. Well it''s a joke of course, there has to be a balance of form players and established top players. The FA needs to place less emphasis on marketing and more on winning tournaments.

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Purple - yep, agree with that. It''s an interesting topic, and one I hinted at in the last par. In time international football may become the preserve of developing nations that feel like they need to assert a strong identity. Probably another blog for another time!

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[quote user="Jonzey"]Excellent post Daniel. Such a refreshing change from the Twitter rubbish and constant bickering on other threads.

I agree about the winter break proposal too, it''s been shown many times over the years that it is beneficial to a national team, and players in general. But cramming 5 internationals in may be slightly too much for the players involved. Spreading them out over a season is probably one thing the FA have got right. Except money making friendlies at the end of the season, they''re just there to pay the big bosses their bonuses.

As for the point made about players like Lambert and Holt being frozen out for the likes of Cambell and Welbeck. Well it''s a joke of course, there has to be a balance of form players and established top players. The FA needs to place less emphasis on marketing and more on winning tournaments.[/quote]Welbeck is certainly contentious. he was nominated for young player of the season. at that point, he a striker, had scored just zero goals in the PL. WTF.  the idea of qualifying matches played in one month is a very good idea.

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