Would you rather see England lift the World Cup or your team with the league title? For many of you modern day fans it would be the latter, but I wonder what the likes of Sir Stanley Matthews and Bobby Moore would say in response to this. The younger generation of today still revels in the accomplishments of 1966 and yet, despite this, club football is ruling the roost in the world of football.

The Premier League was set up in 1992 amidst claims that it would help bolster the England team, but nearly twenty years later it is ironically crippling the Three Lions. The Premier League has created ‘super managers’, the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger being the main culprits, which has tilted the balance in favour of the clubs whose managers are able to withdraw their players or, at the very least, lay down strict guidelines.

The clubs do have valid reasoning for withdrawing their players, other than the obvious ‘burn-out’ argument; why should the FA have the final say? Are they not just a big corporation interested in their brand and product rather than interested in football and England as a real class act that gave the beautiful game to the world?

There are numerous examples over the years of players sacrificing their national team for the good of their club career; Dimitar Berbatov, Alan Shearer and Paul Scholes to name just a few, but who can blame them. The club pays their wages with many endorsement payments on top and we must remember being a footballer, like in any job, people want to make as much money as possible. Playing for England brings no financial benefits, just pride, but even that sense of pride seems to be dwindling with every redundant friendly that passes; despite international managers arguing that friendlies are vital for allowing new talent and tactics to be tested.

It always seems to boil down to European football’s obsession with the top half a dozen from each league, especially when you read that five players released from England duty this week all play for a team in the top five. Not only does this demonstrate the FA’s general feeling of indifference towards the fixture against the Black Stars, but it is this direct lack of respect for the rest of the teams competing in the league that makes the power of the top six so strong; allowing them to call the shots in relation to the club versus country dispute.

I wouldn’t say passion and desire for England is totally lost, as come every major tournament when England ultimately promise so much but always fall, there is a genuine disappointment and anger from young and old alike. This may just be because the season is over so football fans need something to keep them occupied, but I believe it’s more than that; I feel it is frustration at ruining another chance to recreate ‘our’ own iconic photograph of Bobby Moore being lifted by his fellow countrymen, only this time with Wayne Rooney in Moore’s place. Furthermore, Jack Wilshere, whose inclusion in the U21 squad started the latest struggle between club and country, has declared he would love to play for the U21’s this summer and if you look at players such as Darren Bent and Matt Jarvis, players who are very unlikely to play in the Champions League, they would view England as an honour and a chance to showcase their talents on one of the World’s biggest stages.

All is not lost for the national team just yet. I believe it’s the fans that hold the key to England’s games becoming more than just an inconvenience. Until the fans decide they want to follow and support England for more than two months every two years then the FA have to make them want to; but I’m afraid, for now, club will always be the victor.


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