International soccer interferes with clubs' ambitions rather than the other way round as England boss Roy Hodgson has declared, Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson said on Friday.
Hodgson has accused Premier League clubs and players of treating international breaks as a holiday and says this attitude is undermining the national team's prospects. "I think if you look at the opposite side of it, international football interferes with the club's ambitions, friendly games for a start," Ferguson told a news conference the day after Hodgson spoke out.
"They play a friendly game, they have been doing for the last decade, on the Wednesday before the season starts - tell me the sense of that."
While Hodgson did not name names, his words came weeks after United's Rio Ferdinand withdrew from the national squad due to his fitness schedule but then travelled to Qatar while England played World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Montenegro.
"What worries me is that clubs need international football but the great pity is that we suggest international football should be relegated to a lesser stage because the clubs have the Champions League and championships to aim for," Hodgson said at the Soccerex European Forum in Manchester on Thursday.
"These breaks are being seen as the 10-day break that you don't always get during the season. It concerns me that we are guilty of accepting it's the international break so we can give the player 10 days off to go to Dubai.
"I would still like to see the international break being a time when players go to play for their international teams, and it is seen as an important time."
He added that if players needed a break, they should be given them at other times. "If you're a club manager now you've got no excuse. UEFA are putting an end to the friendly debate by putting them in clearly defined international dates so you can quite easily plan your time around these blocks," he said.
"If your players need a rest it's not obligatory that it has to be during the international break. It can be done during the other 40-odd weeks of the year when they are with their clubs."
Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini revived calls for a winter break in England as enjoyed by many European leagues. "I think we need to have a break in December ... because we play a lot of games," the Italian told a news conference on Friday.
"The moment they decide to give the players one week off in December it would be good for the (club) team and for the national team."