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WHEN it comes to the increasingly vexed question of club versus country, Arsene Wenger continues to play the philosophical equivalent of a game of two halves: spot on half the time, way off the mark the rest.

specify the shadowy "they" who have destroyed international football but, as an intelligent man and, by his own admission, a student of international relations, we can presume he doesn't mean the plain people of such places as Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania, Bosnia and other countries, all of whom had the effrontery to demand freedom and independence and then, by virtue of achieving same at an often heavy price, also happened to wind up with their own national teams which they could support just like football folk have had the luxury of doing for years in more fortunate places like France and England.

For club and country

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Anyway, Sepp Blatter is probably whistling in the wind since there is no obvious way, short of tearing up the rule book completely, that the EU would go along with something which would be such an overt challenge to freedom of movement rights across the continent.

And if by "they", Wenger means FIFA, then is he suggesting that the lads in Zurich should ignore the march of small nations and only permit entry to those with a proven record at the highest level? Because that way, folks, lies the Champions League. You know, the competition reserved exclusively for Europe's elite clubs and whose membership standards are so prohibitively high that, in a recent ding dong battle, Liverpool could only manage to win 8 0 against Besiktas. And, what was the other one? Oh, yes, Arsenal just squeezed past Slavia Prague by 7 0.

Nike Lebron Xiii Low Game Royal & Metallic Silver

Nike Lebron Xiii Low Game Royal & Metallic Silver

The same applies to every country in the world and, to their credit, it's something the FAI are working on here with their Emerging Talent Programme and, in the long run, the trickle up effect might even cast them in a better light when it comes to the international team. Ultimately, what would be good for club would be good for country even Arsene Wenger would surely approve of that.

Nike Lebron Xiii Low Game Royal & Metallic Silver

In a fascinating interview in the current edition of FourFourTwo, the Arsenal boss revisits a favourite theme: what he believes to be the creeping mediocrity of the international game.

they perceived to be better than the homegrown ones? And that brings us back to the critical role of the coaching of young players not to mention, the coaching of the coaches. And Wenger himself touches on this when he says: "When it comes to young English players, you need to detect them, select them, target the work and then integrate them into the teams. But the response needs a bit of patience as it takes time."

old game, a level at which minnows can still humble maestros and, much as we might like it to happen, the next manager of the Republic of Ireland won't be able to "sensationally swoop" for Lionel Messi in an audacious multi million deal bankrolled by the new chief executive of the FAI, Ivan Delanakov.

Can't fault a word of that, even if Wenger must be motivated in part by self interest. Or to put it another way: as FourFourTwo helpfully points out, a theoretical Anglo weighted Arsenal 11 of recent vintage might look like this: Stuart Taylor, Kerrea Gilbert, Kolo Toure, Matthew Upson, Justin Hoytle; Cesc Fabregas, James Harper, Steve Sidwell, David Bentley; Theo Walcott, Emmanuel Adebayor. Be honest, that lot might even struggle to put three or four past Slavia Prague.

Wenger's denigration of international football sounds even more absurd coming from a man whose professional home is a league so wholly dominated by a tiny handful of clubs that the best the rest can hope for in the absence of a loadsamoney sugardaddy, of course is the fabled "top four finish" or, more realistically, "mid table mediocrity" or even praise the lord and pass the sponsorship "survival in the top flight".

"I'm not a big Nike Zoom Equalon

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fan of international football because they destroyed it," he opines. "Take Russia, once it was one country, now it's 21. Yugoslavia was one and now it's six. As a result, the level has dropped. Then you add countries like Andorra, Faroe Islands and San Marino and suddenly three games out of four are of no interest. When you think of international football you think that it's a level up but 99% of the time it's a level down. That's why I prefer club football."

By contrast, international football, for all its faults, remains just about the purest version of the grand Nike Kyrie 1 Black History Month

As for Wenger's comments about a game against San Marino being of no interest er, will you tell him or will Stan?

"I'll always fight fanatically against all the quota systems. I find them utter rubbish. I think that sport is just because it rewards the best. You could be my son but if you're not good enough you don't play at Arsenal. You could be the son of Tony Blair but if you're not good enough you don't play at Newcastle. Sport should reward the best. If you're good enough, my friend, you play no matter what your name, colour or passport."

But the debate raises another important issue, one which supporters of the quota concept would do well to think through. The question shouldn't be: why are these foreign players in our league? Rather, the question should be: why are Nike Zoom Dunk Low

Nike Lebron Xiii Low Game Royal & Metallic Silver

Nike Lebron Xiii Low Game Royal & Metallic Silver

Well, where to begin with this load of old twaddle? Wenger doesn't

Nike Lebron Xiii Low Game Royal & Metallic Silver

Which takes us to the break and, lo and behold, after giving himself the hairdryer treatment or more likely a session Nike Lebron Xiii Low Game Royal & Metallic Silver of aromatherapy Arsene emerges smelling of roses and right on the money for the next 45. Here he is, rubbishing Sepp Blatter's dreams of imposing a quota on the number of foreign players with European clubs.

Nike Lebron Xiii Low Game Royal & Metallic Silver

Nike Lebron Xiii Low Game Royal & Metallic Silver

Nike Lebron Xiii Low Game Royal & Metallic Silver

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