Friendlies lack fever, so bring on the heat of battle

Friendlies lack fever, so bring on the heat of battle

Friendlies lack fever, so bring on the heat of battle

First published in Sport
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Worcester News: Photograph of the Author by

I HAVE long thought that international football friendlies are largely a waste of time, and England’s match against Denmark did nothing to change my mind.

Last Wednesday’s Wembley encounter was one of the most dreary and lacklustre 90 minutes I have witnessed in a long while.

You would have thought the prospect of a World Cup in Brazil in June would have energised proceedings.

Players with a point to prove putting in such an inspired performance that manager Roy Hodgson could not fail to put them on the plane.

But it didn’t, and a few notable exceptions such as Adam Lallana aside, they didn’t.

The problem is that no matter how hard you try, you can’t replicate the edge that competitive football brings.

It seems that, subconsciously, players aren’t tuned in when it comes to the artificial surroundings of a friendly.

Psychologist Dr Steve Peters, who England have hired, could probably tell them a thing or two about that.

It will be the same for the warm-up matches against Peru, Ecuador and Honduras, by which time Hodgson will have named his squad for Brazil.

Only then it will be players not fully committing to challenges through fear of injury and missing out on the big stage.

In essence, it makes these matches nothing more than glorified training sessions and they can be held behind closed doors.

The only true test, for good or bad, is in the heat of battle, whether it be a World Cup match, picking up three points in the Premier League or staving off relegation.

I’m not sure what the solution is, but meaningless friendlies aren't it.

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