The Real Football Man

If you’re reading this column then congratulations you’ve survived another international break. That’s the good news but now here is the bad. Yes that’s right there is another one around the corner in November, not only will the clocks have gone back and the harshness of Winter set in but also there’s another hiatus to rudely interrupt the Premier League season.

But do you know what over the past week or so I’ve had something of an epiphany and seen the light, this epiphany has allowed me to draw this particular conclusion one that I can also prove as scientific fact after many hours of research.

Quite simply, international football is not actually that bad. It’s having to watch England that is the problem. It turns out that the beauty of the non-club version of game is because it is played all over the world (literally) there are more than 200 nations plying their trade and gunning for global supremacy.

It turns out then when there is something is on the line and it really matters then international football is no less interesting than anything else you would lay witness to on a weekly basis. Try telling fans of Republic Of Ireland and Wales that it doesn’t matter when they drew the National Anthem singing contest on Monday night.

Try telling Panama it’s only international football as they celebrated qualification to the World Cup next Summer by being granted a national holiday (thanks Theresa), mention it to Egypt who qualified for their first World Cup in 28 years with a 95th-minute penalty.

Say that it doesn’t matter to Lionel Messi (I mean the chances of a face to face encounter are unlikely not to mention the potential language barrier as his English isn’t great and I’m not sure how strong your Spanish is but just go with me here) who dragged Argentina to the brink in the small hours of Wednesday morning.

Drop it into conversation with some Syrian fans who were a lick of paint away from dumping out Australia and moving to an intercontinental playoff. In a country that has had a miserable run of luck this qualification run was the one shining light that bought hope to a nation and their story would have won the hearts of even the toughest man.

You only have to look at the backlash that is coming out of the United States right now after their defeat to Trinidad & Tobago. For a supposed non-football nation the fact that they will not be at the world’s biggest party for the first time since 1986 has hit them hard.

Even Scotland will be feeling the misery of making the playoffs after an impressive run of results saw them just miss out on goal difference to Slovakia in a bid to finish second in the group. So much so that Gordon Strachan walked away from his job as manager as he feels he cannot take them any further. Has anyone got the number for Alan McCurbishley?

You see in every other country in the world, international football matters. It truly matters it’s just in England we have been brainwashed to accept ‘The Best League In The World’ and for all the benefits the Premier League offers such as high ticket prices, fixtures being rescheduled at short notice and sanitised atmospheres it also means that the two entities of club and country cannot go together.

The issue is a much maligned one and to be honest one that is never really going to be solved due to the global juggernaut that Richard Scudamore is driving and I think as a nation we just have to accept that are role in world football has been and will continue to be marginalised. Oh well at least there’s Jordan Henderson.

As for the UEFA Nations League, it sounds a great idea in theory but it has perhaps created one nightmare scenario. England can actually get relegated

Until next week.