Another International Break – is it time for a rethink?

Published: 22/11/2023

By Joe Wood

This is without doubt the best England side I have ever seen. Their accomplishments are only second to those of the Bobby Moore and the Charlton’s in ’66. I should want to see them at every opportunity I get…

But I don’t.

They played against Malta and North Macedonia and managed a paltry 3 goals and 4 points. Previous to these fixtures, they played against Italy and a friendly against Australia and the best things I can say about those fixtures is that I consumed them. I didn’t enjoy them or the performances contained within them.

The international breaks in the season are almost like a trip to the dentists. You know you need to do them, but they’re in the way of everything else that’s fun and are pretty uncomfortable when you’re in them.

Thing is, I’m not in the camp of jumping up and down and shouting “Why are England playing the likes of San Marino and Kazakhstan in a euro qualifier?!?!”. Those two sides have every right to play qualifiers against the big boys. Imagine the FA cup without the potential for giant killing, and seemingly lopsided ties. Suddenly loses a lot of interest doesn’t it?

No, I’m not proposing that the powers that be, remove the smaller nations or ring fence the big boys. What I think I actually want to see is a larger international window.

Let me explain.

Next year, there are 3 international breaks in the first 3 months of the season, that are to facilitate the playing of 6 competitive fixtures. Those 3 breaks span a timescale of 27 days.

That’s an entire month, to play 6 games. An entire month where the top 3 divisions in our country are basically put on ice.

If we look at Pompeys schedule, on the 5th August, they played Bristol Rovers, then on the 22nd August, they played Fulham U21s in their 6th fixture of the season

That’s a span of 18 days for 6 games.

I would much rather a longer but less frequent stop for international games, because the season doesn’t get interrupted as badly as the current set up in my opinion.

The entire qualification process could be done in two breaks. Making every window matter way more than it does currently. Plus, it would more accurately represent the conditions of the main tournament itself, plenty of games in a short space of time.

Alas, none of this will happen and England will trudge off to the Faroe Islands to grind out an uninspiring 2-1 win next September, accompanied by the regular cookie cutter quotes of “no easy games at this level” and “I saw positive signs tonight”.

Glad you did Gareth, because I fell asleep.