England tour condemned by Ferguson and Wenger

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The Independent Football

Arsene Wenger and Alex Ferguson have attacked England's post-season tour of the United States with Wenger claiming it could descend into "farce" if, as expected, a large amount of players pull out.

Wenger, the Arsenal manager, also firmly believes the friendlies against the US and Colombia at the end of May will harm England's chances of success at the 2006 World Cup, while his counterpart at Manchester United has said he will defy rules that state he must release his players.

Ferguson said: "We will assess who wants to go. Sometimes players want to go on these tours, sometimes they don't. Sometimes they need a rest and the players who are playing for clubs at the very top of the League, the Chelsea players, the Arsenal players, the United players, they have got a harder season than the others. And the Liverpool players this year are in the same boat." Wenger also feels that it is imperative the players get a rest with no tournament this summer. Anything else could see England's World Cup hopes dashed in 15 months' time.

He said: "This tour makes no physiological sense. You want to rest the players before the World Cup. If Alex Ferguson says he will stop his players going I feel that makes it even worse because it makes a farce of the whole tour.

"If you go over there without your best players, England will not be well represented and the public will be cheated.

"You cannot go there without the players of Manchester United, Chelsea or Arsenal and say you are representing England. It is better if you go with the under-21s. I am not for this tour - I am against it."

Although the FA have now made sure there is a full month off next May before the World Cup starts, Wenger believes the best rest would come with a complete break this summer.

He said: "Suddenly someone has decided that you have to have four weeks off before the World Cup starts. I'm sorry, but I have seen very good World Cups without the four weeks beforehand.

"You also get bad teams with four weeks' preparation. What happens is the season ends, they have one week's rest, then they prepare for two weeks and then travel to Germany. That one week's rest will not change anything. The biggest rest they can have is this summer. They could have six weeks' rest where they regenerate completely.

"It takes six weeks to heal all the micro-traumas completely. In one week you have a breather then you come back. But this summer is more important.

"I think if you want to give your players the best chance, it is important they have a good break this year, 12 months before."

He also believes the England manager, Sven Goran Eriksson, harbours some doubts about the tour. He said: "I am not convinced Eriksson is 100 per cent keen on the tour. He is not stupid because he knows that half of his team will pull out and will have to travel with a squad that does not completely represent England. But he will be hammered if they don't win their games."

Wenger painted a doomsday scenario for his own international players where they go on tour this May and then return early in the summer if Arsenal have to play a Champions' League pre-qualifier in early August, cutting down on their rest period. Those players then face virtual non-stop football until the World Cup - with barely a break in between. "The players could go into next season without having had any proper rest," he said." Then that one week holiday next May makes no difference."

The Frenchman also revealed that he turned down lucrative offers from abroad in order to try and rest his team. This England tour has, in effect, stymied his good intentions.

"I turn down tours in pre- and post-season out of respect for the players," he said. "I could make a lot of money from just one game in China or Japan. The sort of money is between £600,000 and £1m. I have turned down these games at the end of this season in Asia and the United States. But I have made a mistake, because they will play anyway with the national team."

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