Wenger sees uncertain future for International friendlies

Last updated at 18:50 27 March 2008

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes it will not be long before there is no

room in busy football schedules for international friendlies.

England suffered their first defeat under new boss Fabio Capello when they were beaten 1-0 by a under-strength France side in Paris last night.

Wenger was at the Stade de France, as a pundit for French television and he

feels such encounters have little meaning now, with everyone so focused on

competitive games.

"I am scared that in the modern game, there is no room any more for friendly

internationals - not because countries take our players, just because people

will not be interested in that any more," Wenger said.

"There is nothing at stake. People want to see competitive games. Maybe I am

completely wrong but in the end you get people to travel and it is good as an

experiment for a manager to work on things.

"But, is it in the long term feasible for people to travel and spend their

money to watch this kind of game? I am not sure."

The Arsenal boss continued: "They are slowly starting to cut the number of

international games because they have no meaning any more in the modern game.

People want to see competitive games.

"You sit here today. You can't say England were fantastic or France were

fantastic. Straight away you say 'but it was only a friendly'.

"In fairness I watched the game last night and you always felt it was a

friendly game with 5% missing between a friendly and a competitive match."

Arsenal played host to an international last night, with more than 60,000

people turning up at Emirates Stadium to see Brazil take on Sweden.

The Gunners boss believes the time would be better spent having squads assemble

for a few days rather than taking on opposition just for the sake of it.

But Wenger did admit that the matches still hold meaning to the players - with

his squad full of internationals from around the globe.

"They could be replaced by training camps," Wenger said.

"You have to think about it if attendances and television audiences go down. I

saw many friendly games last night with half-empty stadiums.

"I believe frankly that it means a lot to my players. When I speak to my

players, they want to do well in the European Championship, they want to do well

in the World Cup.

"It really matters to them. You could see a guy like [David] Beckham. He was

ready to die to get his 100th cap.

"If he wasn't and it didn't matter, he would not have done that.

"It matters to them, but it is still a friendly - it's low key, the guy plays

last night and next week he has a Champions league game and he doesn't want to

miss that game.

"So subconsciously, you miss a fraction and that makes a game less


Despite the disappointing result in Paris for England, Wenger maintains it is

all part of the learning process for their new Italian coach.

"I wouldn't draw any conclusions from last night's game because I think that

at the moment Capello is in an experimental period," he added.

"He played a technical team first of all with 4-5-1, but England lacked a bit

of penetration. "Then a more British style with Crouch and Owen up front, where

they were then dominated in the middle of the park. I feel certain he will try

to find a mixture between these two styles."

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