Internationals: Blessing Or Curse?
United appear to finally hit their true form - so it's only natural that international games are coming up to disrupt it!
It's an ever-present debate whether representing your country is the greatest achievement for a footballer or it's a painful duty that distracts from the bread and butter what is the club football.
I won't start that debate again; I only want to have a look at whether the break will benefit United.
The team had trouble finding its true form after last season's title success. After a slow start, 1-0 wins with scrappy performances marked our road and it seemed something is just not right. The strikers were struggling and our unimaginative performances resulted in wins because of single moments of brilliance and admirable defensive resilience.
Many, including myself and Sir Alex Ferguson - true greats if you ask me - predicted someone would soon be thumped and predictably, it was Wigan who shipped in another 4 goals to add to their previous tally of 16, conceded in five games played against the Red Devils. In the second half, we were playing with our trademark flow and rhythm so things generally looked good.
Considering these things, the international break comes at the worst possible time. Our players go to their national squads, play two games, won't train together until next weekend... all the work and preparation put in during recent weeks will be disrupted. We might have to rebuild the understanding that began to develop.
That is why I always favoured the idea of playing internationals at the end of the season, in May and June and also at the start of the season, in August. This way the club campaign could go from the start of September to the end of April or the first weekend of May. Qualification for the Euro 2008 would have ended in August of this year. It would be better I think.
There's another angle, though. Injuries. Usually, injuries and internationals are connected in a simple way: players pick up frustrating injuries in needless friendly games. Yet in the current state of our squad, I must say that it's a relief that some of our players will be able to rest and train. If we do not pick up more than one injuries during the internationals but will have three of four men back after them, I will bless those dear qualifiers.