In the midst of another international break, England have announced another fixture ‘“ a friendly in France ‘“ to take place at a crucial time of the season ‘“ March 26th. And one man who has already spoken out about how bad the Fifa sanctioned date is, is Alex Ferguson:
“There is a stupid friendly week in March, but I assume it will be limited teams because you are talking about a really important time of the season for league clubs.’
The week before that Liverpool and United meet (March 22nd) and the friendly will disrupt clubs shortly before a potential Champions League quarter final.
“Most clubs, not just United, are finding it difficult to keep the continuity going when you lose your players for two weeks at a time,’ said Fergie.
The subject of international breaks has always been a bone of contention for Rafa Benitez and no doubt he will strongly agree with Ferguson.
You have to question the benefit the friendly will have for English football as a whole; the big clubs will try to avoid their players being played and it will have no benefit to those clubs who could be in European competition still and, if anything, have a detrimental effect on English clubs qualifying for the latter stages of the Champions League.
After the current international break, thankfully there is just one more ‘“ in November ‘“ before this new date in late March.
Benitez though is still angry at the scheduling of Liverpool matches for live coverage and early kick-off directly after the international break ‘“ which is again the case this week with the Merseyside derby kicking off at 12:45, meaning Benitez will have just one full day to prepare the players for arguably the biggest game of the season so far.
Speaking about the current break, Benitez said:
“Is it a nightmare? Yes it is a bit. In the last international break we were top of the league, now we are saying maybe the break is good for us.
“But we cannot train with the players, we cannot control what they are doing, we just have to cross our fingers and wait.
“It’s difficult when you have a lot of players away. You cannot control them, then you have important games and maybe you will have problems.
“We cannot do much. The players left behind trained with the reserves and they played head-tennis.”