by Alex Hall and Reece Chambers
International football has taken precedence over the past week, with Premier League and Championship clubs taking a break from action as their players travel the world.
Having a second international break just two months into the season splits the opinion of supporters, and Alex Hall and Reece Chambers have argued for and against the hiatus occurring…
FOR – by Alex Hall
As a Bristol City supporter, I believe the international break to be a positive due to the numerous benefits for both the supporters and players.
The clear advantage of international breaks is that it provides players who do not represent their national teams with a well-earned break. The Championship is known to have arguably the most congested schedule of the domestic leagues due to 24 teams competing and clashes with cup fixtures occurring regularly.
Therefore, a week of rest can be vital for a championship side like Bristol City to regain fitness levels and also recover from minor injuries. In a post-match interview following The Robins’ last fixture before the break, head coach Lee Johnson emphasised the importance of the international break saying that “it allows us to breathe”.
For those players that are involved with their respective national teams, it gives them a chance to gain further experience playing with different players and in different styles, making them more adaptable when they return to their club.
I believe this is especially important in the Championship as they are given the chance to play with and against players of a higher quality, improving their development. In addition, it needs to be recognised that international football still provides excitement for a lot of people, and there needs to be time for countries to qualify for the finals of competitions.
Fans of nations that have smaller populations anticipate these breaks as it gives them a chance to get excited about football so even though you get the odd fixture and bore draw, international football is still an entertaining prospect in many respects.
AGAINST – by Reece Chambers
With eight matches gone in the Premier League, teams are beginning to find their feet in the league – or not, in the cases of Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur. So, what better time to stop that momentum than by shoving an international break into the schedule?
For context, this ‘against’ piece was constructed just three days after Liverpool made it eight wins from eight in the league, so I’m still on cloud nine. With eight points between the Reds and Manchester City, this international break has probably come at the worst possible time.
Aymeric Laporte is injured, John Stones, too, and Pep Guardiola’s side have just lost their second game of the season – a 2-0 defeat to Wolves at home. So, this rant may or may not contain some bias given the disruption caused to Liverpool’s 100% win record so far this campaign.
In essence though, the break in momentum can apply to any team. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer argued – after United’s 1-0 defeat to Newcastle – that the international break had come at just the right time. But, I’d argue against that. His players now travel all over the world to represent their respective countries which is an incredible honour. But, from the club’s point of view, this is extra minutes in their legs, countless hours travelling and presents a serious risk of injury.
The end result of the international break is not valuable rest. It may be for the likes of James Milner and Joel Matip who have sacrificed their international careers to focus on club football. But, in the most part, it results in extra fatigue for players in games that are almost always a foregone conclusion.
This dislike of the international break is similar for most Liverpool fans who, in the most part, feel a disconnect with their country. These reasons go far beyond football and lay deep in history. Essentially, though, the international break represents a hiatus in the Premier League season that only adds to the already concerning state of player welfare at the top of our beautiful game.