When it was announced that Steven Gerrard and Owen Hargreaves would be unavailable for England’s games against Andorra and Croatia, some members of the press had a field day. All of a sudden, two of the biggest Premier League clubs in the land were sticking their middle finger in the direction of Fabio Capello and telling him to ‘go swivel’.
The Sun in particular were vociferous on Liverpool’s decision to make captain Steven Gerrard go for a groin operation, while Hargreaves was not risked on account of a knee injury. In typical fashion, Sky Sports reports that the Croatian manager thinks that something is wrong when clubs have more power over players – welcome to the real world Slaven.
“When your league and clubs are much bigger than the national team you have a problem,” Bilic told The Sun.
“You can’t help the national team. Put it this way – did Gerrard have to go have the operation now? Is Hargreaves really so injured that he can’t even come to try?
“Of course if my players are injured they’re not playing.
“Firstly because of them and secondly because we have to have a fit guy playing. I never had a problem with a club that told me, ‘he ain’t gonna come’.
“But using the international break to rest players or for them to have an operation, well you need to address that.”
Tomorrow, Bilic will be telling grandmothers everywhere how to suck eggs. Despite the absence of Gerrard and Hargreaves, England have enough quality in their squad to at least bag a draw in Zagreb on Wednesday night, something which might silence Croatia’s big-mouthed manager. After all, everyone has lamented the fact that Lampard and Stevie G can’t play in the same team, so perhaps the performance will be all the better for the Liverpool skipper’s absence.