Joe Rowley is sent flying with a loan-ending injury.Picture: IAN BURT.

FOOTBALL: In his time as a Premiership manager Arsene Wenger will always been ranked as one of the best in his profession.

His team of invincibles, when Arsenal went through the 2003/4 Premier League season unbeaten is probably a feat that will never be repeated.

Indeed his once bitter rival and now friend, Sir Alex Ferguson, hailed the achievement as ‘something that stand’s above everything else in football’. 

Since hanging up his tracksuit, Wenger has taken on the rather grand role of Chief of Global Football Development at FIFA. 

Last week he reaffirmed his idea of holding World Cup and European Championship tournaments every two years, instead of the current four. 

Wenger’s master plan would see the international breaks, which currently stand at four per domestic season, cut to just two but of a longer duration, which would see the qualifying games all played in these blocks, along with the recently invented UEFA Nations League being scrapped. 

Wenger’s last point has received much backing and I tend to agree. The tournament has no meaning and is an unwanted distraction in an already crowded schedule.

It has been seen by more than a few people as just another money-making exercise from the body that runs football. 

Apart from the tournament games, I’m not the biggest fan of international football. 

Supporting the national team with a passion has never really been an attractive proposition for me. 

The qualifying system is in need of a overhaul. To be blunt, and I’m not wishing to cause offence, but the likes of Gibraltar, San Marino and, one of England’s opponents last week, Andorra, really shouldn’t be locking horns with the likes of Portugal, Belgium and ourselves. 

England travel next month to San Marino where a win will seal their participation in next year’s World Cup. They will be playing a side who haven’t had a win in their last 113 games.

The qualifiers should revert back to how they used to be with groups of four, evenly matched, competitive teams playing each other for the right to play in a smaller, more refined world or Euro tournament with only the winners and best-placed runners-up progressing. 

The qualifying and tournament stages of international football are far too big in their current format. 

They must be streamlined to save players from burnout. I heard Jurgen Klopp’s pre-Watford press conference in which he spoke of his displeasure at being without Brazilian duo of Fabinho and Allison Becker due to Covid quarantine rules, as well as Curtis Jones, who had picked up an injury on duty with England’s u21s. 

The disruption these breaks cause to clubs is a continuing problem that has to be addressed. It’s the domestic clubs that have to pay these players injured on international duty, not the national football associations. 

It’s not just international football that needs streamlining. The only reason the European Cup was replaced by the Champions League, and the UEFA Cup by the Europa League, was so that extra monies could be made. 

The two-legged, knockout nature of the competitions of yesteryear should never have been replaced by the current format. 

The group stages of the Champions League are predictable. Including teams who are not champions of their countries has only increased the games that have to be played – and the money to be made…


FA Cup Gold for Linnets

FOOTBALL: The FA Cup still retains its traditional format thankfully, with the Linnets edging out a competitive Peterborough Sports outfit by a 2-1 margin (I cannot think who predicted that winning margin in this very column last week!). 

I think we all knew a certain Mr Gash would put his name among the scorers and were hoping for a strike from Gold Omotoya as well to get the big man’s account open. 

As we know now both events happened, with Brett McGavin popping up with the winner.

That put Lynn into the first round proper draw on Sunday, when they were rewarded with another home tie, against League Two side Walsall. 

I think it’s an excellent draw for the club against a side who are not doing overly well at present. On the day, of course, the Linnets will have nothing to lose as all the pressure will be on the visitors.

The only black spot of the afternoon was the nasty injury picked up by midfielder Joe Rowley, just before the Linnets’ winning goal. At the time of writing the exact nature of the injury isn’t properly known, although initial reports are of a ligament injury, rather than a broken leg. 

I had heard that Saturday was possibly going to be Joe’s last game in Lynn’s colour’s anyway as he was due to be recalled by parent club Chesterfield following a string of impressive performances. 

It’s dreadfully bad luck for the player and let’s hope he makes a quick recovery. 

New signing Josh Barrett made his Lynn bow, replacing Rowley, and by all accounts did very well. 

He will, I’m sure, be needed again tomorrow with Town making the long trip to Torquay before Tuesday’s Walks encounter with Boreham Wood.

There is no first-team action at The Walks this weekend but the ladies have a big Women’s FA Cup clash with Cambridge United on Sunday, 2pm. If you’re at a loose end, I’m sure your support will be appreciated greatly.