I’ve yet to meet a person who actually enjoys an international break.
Now, whether that’s just the people I know or that’s a widespread opinion, I’m not sure. However, the label ‘interlull’ hasn’t just come out of no where.
To Arsenal fans in particular, the interlull is often seen as a bad thing. We’re usually having a good run in the league, we go away on international break, and then return as if we’ve had a long weekend partying in Majorca; the whole team look tired, a little green around the gills, and someone’s broken their foot.
Also, from a selfish point of view, since I’m not really invested in my national team, I have a weekend or two of having to actually keep my blood pressure at a normal, healthy level. And that’s not exciting at all, is it?
However, after much deliberation and hearing our players talk about the honour it is to play for their country, I started to casually entertain the idea that maybe the interlull wasn’t all bad.
Send her victorious
Winning, as a rule, is quite nice in any sport, and I imagine it’s probably an unreal feeling to have your countrymen, some of which who hurl abuse at you when you play for your club, singing your name, cheering for you and banding together.
Winning is also great for footballers’ confidence. I know – shocking. However, I’m going to use Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as an example. Sidelined by injury and in perpetual pain for the last two years, the 22-year-old is finally getting a chance to shine for his country and he’s loving his football.
Grabbing an assist to help Wayne Rooney equal Sir Bobby Charlton’s goalscoring record would have been an immense rush, and an achievement that he can look back on in years to come.
In addition, the Ox is also getting his ego stroked on a larger scale. Not just by Gooners, but England fans and pundits as well. For a footballer like Oxlade-Chamberlain, hearing about his ability from people other than his manager, fans, who he could argue have to like him, and his dad, is probably hugely self-validating. The youngster needs this extra confidence because it appears the more confident he’s getting, the better he’s playing.
Long to reign over us
As much as most of us associate the interlull with our players getting injured, or being asked to play when they’re not quite fit, the best case scenario is that they get a little more match time.
This doesn’t necessarily apply to our starting 11 who are already playing week in, week out, but again, for the Ox who rarely gets a start, this is a great way of allowing him to get almost a full game under his belt so he can be better equipped to challenge for a spot in our first team.
From his point of view, it probably prevents him from stagnating as well. The feeling of getting picked and playing 60+ minutes will make him feel as if he’s progressing and recovering from his injuries, rather than just standing still.
Happy and glorious
I know as fans we like to pretend that our whole squad gets along all day, every day. In our minds, they’re practically brothers. They all skip into London Colney every morning, hand-in-hand, high-fiving, complimenting each other’s hair and play fighting in the grass. In reality, as much as I’m sure our squad do genuinely get along, especially now more than ever, they’re still all very different people with different backgrounds. There are going to be clashes and at times even friction.
Traveling away with a different group of players is probably refreshing. They can speak to others about what they’ve been up to, their interests and hear their stories. It’s almost like pressing the reset button so when they return to the Arsenal camp, there’s less chance of someone hacking up Olivier Giroud’s moon boots.
As with any situation there are pros and cons, and I’m not going to find myself getting excited about an international break any time soon. But it’s not all bad and if it gives players like the Ox a platform to improve upon, it could even be seen as positive.