There was a time when the people who welcomed an international break were players at Newcastle who hadn’t been called up.
Former England medio Rob Lee recalled that Kevin Keegan (Newcastle manager) was chummy with the sultan of Brunei in the 1990s and would take those left to the sultanate for mini-breaks. The non-internationals at other clubs tended to end up training with a few reserves.
Little wonder today’s Premiership managers get away for breaks at times like this. The resorts of Dubai, Spain and Portugal will host Premiership gaffers this week. Some of them may choose to hop across the pond, like Sir Alex Ferguson did during October’s break.
Sunderland boss Steve Bruce was invited by Thailand’s new manager Bryan Robson in Singapore this weekend as they play a crucial Asian Cup qualifier. Yet no matter how well they are wined and dined, all managers will be unable to escape the suspicion that they will return to their clubs to find key performers have been injured while “on duty”. Few will be looking forward to the resumption of BPL action on November 21.
Except for Manchester City’s Mark Hughes. Not only has City’s trip to Anfield been made less daunting by Liverpool’s injuries, but Hughes has also been able to embark on an international break aimed at directly benefiting his club.
Recently, teams who have won both games which immediately followed international breaks are Manchester United, Aston Villa, Fulham, Blackburn and Sunderland.
(Catch John Dykes on ESPN’s Football Focus every Tuesday and First Edition on Friday)