Fergie criticises international friendlies

Sir Alex Ferguson has hit out at international friendlies designed to ‘create good revenue,’ labelling fixtures – such as England’s upcoming trip to Qatar – as a ‘thorn in everyone’s flesh.’ The Manchester United manager has long fought against international matches during the season, with players often withdrawing through injury.

“You know it’s always a grey area between coaches of the Premier League teams and the England manager, the Sweden manager or the Italy manager,” Ferguson told Sirus XM radio.

“International managers have a situation they find themselves in and I think some of them actually could do without the friendly games themselves.

“But the football associations from every country warn them that sometimes it’s a nice day for them, a nice trip for them, a sunny day, and in some cases it creates good revenue.”

Ferguson, hardly a friend of the Football Association, which is being paid around £400,000 to play Brazil in Qatar next month, is likely to lose Wayne Rooney, Michael Carrick, Wes Brown, Rio Ferdinand and possibly Michael Owen to the 6,500 mile round trip.

Ferguson will also lose John O’Shea and Patrice Evra to World Cup play-offs, while Scotland, Bulgaria, Serbia and South Korea are also playing friendly matches in min-November.

“It’s the friendly matches that are the problem. It’s a coach’s nightmare, especially if you are in a European campaign and going for cups and titles,” said Ferguson.

“You have all these fixtures and you have the intrusion of a friendly international game in some unknown country, so that is a definite thorn in everyone’s flesh. Unfortunately you can’t do anything about it.

“All the international managers have their jobs to do and we support that, particularly when it comes to the issue of competitive games like the European Championships or the World Cup. It’s very important that these players play for their countries.

“But friendly games are a different matter. I don’t think that anyone agrees with them if you’re a league coach.

“Many years ago, when I first came to United, I used to worry about the players all going away but now I accept it as part of the international scene. There are so many players all over the world so I no longer get myself in a twist about it.”

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