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13 November 2009


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"the papers have neglected to report that Deco, Alex, Ashley Cole, Zhirkov and Joe Cole have all had extended spells on the sidelines."

No, they haven't. In fact, quite a lot has been made of Joe Cole's return from long-term injury, the fact that Zhirkov hasn't yet started a league game, Alex signing a new contract and getting back to full fitness, and Ashley Cole's recent broken leg.

On the other hand, I agree about the international "break", but it's kind of easy to say that when it looks like we've lost our most important midfielder for at least a month. Reports also now coming out that Terry's picked up an injury too.

Russell Saunders

Hi Rob - thanks very much for your post! You're right, they have mentioned it. I suppose what I was getting at there was the idea that, whilst much has been made of the injury crises at Liverpool, Chelsea's relatively high number of injuries haven't had the same scrutiny (probably because we've still be winning games).

I disagree with the international breaks not just because of potential injury - there are a whole host of reasons why for me they're frustrating...


Terry may be injured...


Time for the subs to step it up!


I enjoy reading your blog and find your post-match analysis insightful, however I have to disagree with you on this occasion. Don't get me wrong: I'm devastated Lampard's going to be sidelined for the next few weeks. But these international friendlys are essential in the run-up to a World Cup. More importantly, the first time in 20 years we've had a decent chance of winning a World Cup!

If we (Chelsea) are successful in the compensation appeal, what sort of precedent will this set for international games in the future? Will we see England's best players not selected just in case they're injured on international duty? To me, this is frighteningly dangerous to our national side.

This is a very short-sighted, selfish post for many, many reasons. Let's not forget, fans of the clubs whose players are selected to play for England are, without doubt, in the minority when it comes to the overall England 'fan' base. And if you have a shred of knowledge about our economy, you should be well aware of the £1bn boost qualification will serve up. We're playing this friendly because we have a deal relating back to the opening of the new Wembley. And this should be kept in mind, too.

As a top 4 team we need stop further distancing ourselves from the rest of the Football League. We were sh*t once with no England internationals. Now I love nothing more than seeing 3/4 of our boys pulling on an England shirt.

Russell Saunders

Hi Ben – thanks very much for your very well argued comment.

The fundamental part of your argument I think is an excellent point: fans of the top clubs – me included – are often a little naïve when it comes to thinking about what fans of lower league clubs want from the game. Sometimes it’s all too easy to forget that there’s a wealth of fans across the country watching non Premier League clubs, and I’m very guilty of that.

But I do take issue with a few of your other points.

My argument isn’t that international football shouldn’t exist: it’s about to what extent it should ‘take over’, how many friendlies there should be and how players are treated when they’re involved. I would argue that the right balance hasn’t be found. I guess however that, as someone less keen on international football than some others, I would say that. It probably works both ways to an extent, but it should be remembered that England football can only exist because of the top clubs.

It’s not a strong point, but…I do have a shred of knowledge about the economy! But the £1bn that’s referred to is about qualification. We have qualified – it’s done and dusted. More generally, I would argue that removing 2-3 friendly games from the year wouldn’t have a significant financial impact and, crucially, shouldn’t have such a detrimental effect on the team that to the extent that it would jeopardise qualification for an international tournament.

And if we’re having to send players for international duty (and risk injury) because of the FA’s deals around the hideously over-priced Wembley – that’s a big problem for me. It is neither my fault, nor Chelsea’s, that the building of that stadium was so badly managed.

This fixture is totally unnecessary, a colossal waste of time. And why the hell is it being played in Doha? Any ideas people? Also totally unnecessary – I can’t remember how many Brazilian or English players ply their trade out there…

I love an international tournament – I do. But club will always come first for me, I’m afraid – as it does for most fans across the country. All I ask is for the balance to be redressed, and for players to be treated with the care and consideration they should be.

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