When will the minnows bow out of international football

England’s unsatisfying win over Andorra did nothing to instill any new confidence in the consistently underwhelming international side, yet there was a residual sense of pride in knowing that some football truisms remain alive.

England’s margin of victory and manner of performance were the only question-marks open before the kick off. The result was always absolute. Andorra is the dregs of international football, like the fat kid who made up the numbers in physical education class who, never, ever punched above their weight and only sought to take up valuable space.

This weekend’s England match was incredibly not free-for-view on UK terrestrial television. While this attracted attention, the fact that the situation occurred is evidence of the low standing of international football in England. By not being on television, it gives people an excuse not to tune in.

But this status quo is the problem, not the solution. The international fixture list is now so bloated it gives football fans indigestion, and in a blatant act of finger-pointing, nations such as Andorra, Faroe Islands and Luxembourg – the axis is patheticness – should all be cut loose.

Getting spanked week in, week out is not helping anyone. In order for these nations to improve they need to learn how to develop their game. At present they all approach the football with the same uniform mentality. Line up with 10 men behind the ball at all times, try and stifle the opposition, and pray that a miracle will happen and their postman turned playmaker will release their dustman turned forward, who will score a mesmerising Roy of the Rovers goal.

Such daydreaming, which has constantly been proved to be without merit, would be just-about tolerable if it wasn’t having an adverse affect on wider footballing issues. Why are they not forced to pre-qualify, as their useless participation in qualifying inexcusably multiples the number of fixtures. Just 30 years ago, during Alf Ramsey’s eventually job ending 1974 World Cup qualification campaign, England were in a group with just Poland and Wales. Four games. Now England play ten matches during qualification. It’s a joke.

Teams like Andorra will not improve by getting thumped every game. The irony is however that the footballing federations, like the FA, are in favour of these qualifiers and would encourage their proliferation even further. Why? Because, in the case of England, they have a 775 million pound stadium which they have to fill a dozen times a year in order to make it financially sustainable, and at the end of the day money talks.


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