Many supporters see the international break as an inconvenience which takes Premier League football away from them. Managers have often complained about their players being taken away from them, as they want nothing more than to smother their jet setting stars in bubble wrap to protect them from injury.
However, Eddie Howe has shown that there are both positives and negatives to the international break for Premier League clubs and their managers in particular. The Cherries had various players including Ryan Fraser, Asmir Begovic, and Benik Afobe represent their respective countries despite the likes of Charlie Daniels waiting for his first national call up. Those who did get the call had differing times as Jermain Defoe’s absence on the pitch meant that AFC Bournemouth are still waiting for their first England representative, while Joshua King got on the score sheet for Norway, which could give him a much-needed boost.
One thing that is clear is that Eddie Howe is getting the hang of dealing with the issue, as in the first three international breaks of last season AFC Bournemouth came back and won the next game. A contributing factor to this could be the extra time he gets with his players on the training pitch during this time: “We enjoy the training, we enjoy working with our players, we enjoy that time that you get to actually make a difference to them physically, tactically, technically and you only really get a chance to do that when there are not the games around the corner.
“So we enjoy the international breaks and we’ve done a couple of things that again are a little bit different for the players. We challenge them mentally and that’s been good. We’ve only had a small number, we’ve had 12, 13 players to work with so we’re waiting fingers crossed that all the other boys come back okay which it’s looking like they have.”
For those that do get picked to travel with their country, whether they play can have a big impact on their return to club football, as Howe admitted: “That is a challenge for us, the international boys that go away and play, fine, Josh King, for example, had two games. He probably needed those games and will come back to us hopefully better than when he left.”
“On the flip side of that the boys that don’t get to play, they don’t train at any real intensity because they’re preparing for matches and a lot of the international stuff is tactical. So they don’t train at intensity and they don’t play so they come back, in effect, with two weeks of limited football. So that’s more of a concern for me as when players don’t represent their country in that time.”
Although he does sympathise with the managers who have to make the decisions about who gets to play: “I think everyone wants to travel and all the things that the players do. Of course, you want the game at the end of it but it’s no different, you know I have to disappoint people every weekend and that’s one of the hardest parts of the job, so I understand from the managers’ perspectives how hard it can be.”
Eddie Howe’s Cherries side face Arsenal away later today and with Adam Federici looking to be the only player returning from international duty with an injury, AFC Bournemouth will be hopeful of getting points on the board for the first time this season.