Is it me or does it seem somewhat bonkers to have international friendlies right now? I'd even go as far as saying international games in general are a stupid idea.
It's difficult enough as it is during this pandemic to keep the domestic competitions going, let alone adding the extra risk of COVID infections by asking players to play pointless games.
Top flight clubs, since the disruption of the 2019/20 season, have had heavily congested fixture schedules in the 2020/21 season. Before anyone reads this and thinks 'yeah well this is why they have large squads' or 'they get paid enough money' - I'd like to think you can agree having large squads doesn't necessarily mean high quality.
If we just ignore COVID is actually a threat right now to human life and focus on the football, international friendlies really are a waste of everyone's time. Sure the players get their international caps and a chance to play with and against some of the best players in the world, but, the risks to them from injury is just not worth it.
Some players are playing 3 games in a week, Sunday, Wednesday, Saturday! I know they're athletes but to do that schedule every week for 9/10 months of the year and to stay fit doesn't take an athlete...it's takes a superhuman.
I've not yet mentioned the high performance expected every time they play.
Commentators often pick up on a player looking fatigued, the player will no doubt be subbed off after 60mins (got to make sure they get their 2 points minimum for Fantasy Premier League purposes) but they'll soon be expected to fully recover and perform again in 48hours.
There's probably a 3-4 hour journey crammed in over that 48hour time period too to travel to the match they're expected to perform in too, something everyone seems to forget too.
Raheem Sterling's performance levels have dropped this season and he's part of one of the best squads in world football today. Needless to say he's picked up a niggle in training on Friday and is now resting hoping to be fit for this weekend!
These recent international games, for me, are being held to generate advertising revenue and nothing else, the players well-being is being pushed aside in order for the governing bodies to earn some revenue...it's not like there are any gate receipts at the games with no fans being allowed in the stadiums.
The F.A. are literally trying to squeeze blood out of a stone by asking players to play in these games. They should be accountable for the injuries the players pick up - more than what they already are. Take Joe Gomez of Liverpool for example, injured during training and facing months on the sidelines. Of course this has been a common occurrence over the years, most notably with what happened to Dean Ashton - an injury that eventually ended his career early.
Liverpool FC and their fans will be spitting blood that yet another of their recognised central defenders is out injured and for what purpose? A friendly!
Is the squad really our best!?!
Injuries aside, the players selected to play seems to be out of sync too, certainly from when I was a young lad. To play for your country was a recognition of how well you've been playing for your club. Can the same be said now? Definitely not!
The fact Jack Grealish had to wait so long to get in the squad answers that. Kalvin Phillips of Leeds - no disrespect to Phillips, he's a good player, but how does he take a midfield slot from Grealish - an established Premier League player!?!
What I will add, to argue against myself, is the inclusion of James Ward-Prowse. Ward-Prowse is playing some of the best football of his career and has rightly been recognised by Southgate and Co with his recent inclusion.
However, how does Eric Dier continue to get picked!?! It's baffling, Dier has failed to reach his potential since his bright start in English football. A lot of the issue is he's versatility, is he a midfielder or a defender!?! Sure he can be both - a jack of all trades - but as we know about them...they're a master of none.
If we're beginning to embrace the youth of English football would it not make sense to put someone in the squad with more potential than Eric Dier!?! Mason Holgate of Everton perhaps.
All that aside, whoever is lucky enough to play for the England national team needs to deserve to be there.
The F.A. selection process needs to include data - opta stats to be specific - to show that a player deserves to be there, not just by name. If this was the case Jordan Pickford wouldn't be anywhere near the England set up. His recent form - with calamity included, has been nothing short of awful. For every 90mins he's played this season he's conceded an average of 1.43 goals.
Why isn't Alex McCarthy of Southampton in the squad!?! He's playing every week for Southampton - more than can be said for Dean Henderson (also included in the squad) and he concedes an average of 1.25 goals per 90mins. He's overlooked why? Probably because his face doesn't fit, the same way Jack Grealish's didn't for so long!
I'm not even going to mention Harry Winks other than to say - he last played 90mins for Spurs on 26th September! Tell me how he made the squad!
So are these international games actually worth it?
Who gets anything out of them other than the F.A. who are actually using them to fund themselves through ad revenue. The risks of these games during the period we're in globally is pointless.
With everyone's well-being under the spotlight as we all try to learn to live with the risk of COVID, who's looking after the footballers well-being? Not the F.A.
Fan's don't really care about friendlies, I'm a football fanatic but I prefer club football unless it's a major competition - who don't!
I've not even covered playing positions or formations the England team use and compare those to the ones players are playing in for their clubs, I could go on for AGES about that.
Without adding to your boredom of reading more I'll sign off here.
International friendlies serve no purpose, especially now and more so when the players being selected aren't those that are playing their best football in the domestic league.
Scrap them and give the players some time off between domestic games instead so we can get better and higher quality of performances more often than not.
Let Football win, not the money men behind it. Fans want better quality.