Paul Parker

What is the point?

Paul Parker

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You have to wonder as to the motives for
arranging an international friendly three days before the start of the new Premier
League season.

I just wonder whether the FA planned the
match with Hungary on the pretext that England would do well at the World Cup.

Their thinking might have gone something
like this: after our boys heroic performance in South Africa this game
will give the fans a chance to welcome back Fabio Capello's side - maybe even
as world champions. Weak opposition pretty much guarantees victory so there'll
be celebrations galore and the chance to make a bit of money from it.

Well, it hasn't quite worked out like that,
has it?

No one wants Wednesday's game at Wembley - not
established players, not managers, not even the fans. It is the most ludicrous
time to play an international match, which will be one of the most meaningless
of meaningless friendlies.

Those who were involved in the doomed
campaign in South Africa are still struggling to reach full fitness ahead of
Saturday's domestic openers and those who play at Wembley will be acutely aware
of the risk of sustaining any inopportune injuries.

Likewise their club managers, for whom the
game is nothing more than an unwanted annoyance and a chance for their players
to pick up knocks.

Indeed, the only ones happy with the
scheduling of the game are those players who are set to be given a chance
because of the low profile nature of the game.

Yet so meaningless is this game that even
those who are given a chance to take their international bows will hardly be
jumping for joy.

The likes of Jack Wilshere may well get to
play for his country for the first time, but in the absence of so many experienced
players around him to learn from, the outing is a little bit pointless.

Certainly the interest for fans is minimal
and they have already made their feelings clear by not buying tickets for the
match - sales have reportedly been sluggish.

It wouldn't surprise me if those who were
making the effort to travel to Wembley were going just to vent their anger at
the players.

We saw it at the weekend during the
Community Shield when John Terry, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole and Wayne Rooney
were booed for their contributions to England's demise at the World Cup and I'm
expecting it to happen again on Wednesday.

That's not to say I condone it - fans
should always get behind their team and it doesn't make sense to pay all that
money and travel all the way to a stadium just to boo your team.

Two players they won't get a chance to have
a pop at are Paul Robinson and Wes Brown, yet both would probably deserve it.

I can't understand why either would retire
from international football while they still have a chance of representing
their country. Too many players are doing it these days and it just smacks of

Robinson in particular was handed a golden
opportunity to get back into the team, considering that David James's England career
is over, Joe Hart is too young and Rob Green is currently out of favour. Why
wouldn't Robinson, given his club form last season, have a chance of securing
the number one jersey?

To say that he doesn't want to be
third-choice is just silly and to throw his rattle out of the pram foolish. He's
let himself down and it's a big mistake.

He should have jumped at the chance, and
proved those who doubted him wrong. Instead, he's now set himself up for a
testing season when people will be only too willing to knock him given the
slightest opportunity.

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