I hate international football.
I especially hate it when players who have been struggling with injuries are called up to play meaningless international friendlies. That is the case in the upcoming international window for Tottenham Hotspur captain Heung-Min Son, who captains the South Korean national football team, and has been managing his minutes as he battles a groin strain. You would think rest would be the order of the day, and you would hope Spurs legend Jurgen Klinsmann, head coach of the Reds, might want to help his former club side out. One might hope...
Screw hope, says Jurgen, in a recent press conference with Korean media:
“Of course, there will be fatigue from European and overseas players. You also have to adjust to the time difference. Son Heung-min is likely to be less tired. That’s because they don’t play against Europe. The national team is the highest honor you can have as a player... ...just the fact that they can play in front of the people will make them want to play 90 minutes. Of course, fatigue will accumulate, so they will adjust the amount of exercise during the preparation process. The players will want to play the full 90 minutes.”
He also added:
“The players’ health is the top priority. Communication with each team’s manager is also important. Tottenham would like him to return after being as healthy as possible with the national team, but the same goes for me. It requires interest and consideration.”
For crying out loud.
Not only does Klinsmann say an injured Sonny is likely to play 90 minutes across both fixtures (at least, that’s the subtext even though he doesn’t say it outright), he also says that’s fine because they’ll train a bit less (which is totally the same as match intensity), and then gets in a dig about Spurs not having Champions League football. Great.
Look, the one thing Jurgen gets right here is footballers should be honored and inspired to play for their countries. He’s totally right! But these are friendlies of very little consequence, in a congested footballing calendar that puts player welfare well down the priority list, something Klinsmann conveniently says is totally his top priority. And it’s EXTREMELY rich hearing about passion for playing for your country coming from a dude who doesn’t even bother showing up to run said national team. Seriously, Jurgen Klinnsman has been working as South Korea’s head coach remotely.
The reality is as far as Klinsmann is concerned his motives for playing Son are likely entirely selfish. The German has had a... mixed go of it thus far (and that’s putting it mildly), with the South Koreans having only won a single friendly fixture against “international titans” Saudi Arabia under his leadership. He will be starting to feel pressure to achieve results, or at least get some cohesive football going (which is one of the tough parts international football coaching), and so he will want his best players available in order to attempt to build some semblance of momentum before January’s Asian Cup.
Still though... shut up Jurgen. I hate international football.