We'll start the criticism of the last five days by focusing on the diabolical scenes that took place in Belgrade on Tuesday night. With the score between England Under-21's and Serbia's equivalents set at a tense 1-0 aggregate lead to England, with seconds left on the clock England broke away to score a simple counter attacking goal to put the tie beyond doubt. What followed defied belief, as racist chants - evident throughout the match - elevated in decibels to a stadium roar.
In the frantic heat of the moment Danny Rose was harshly sent off for reacting to the abuse. Serbian fans and team representatives then decided to let all hell break loose, raining down levels of violence simply not acceptable in this day and age. The subsequent statement from the Serbian FA has since played down the issue and placed the blame solely on Rose for behaving 'in an inappropriate, unsportsmanlike and vulgar manner towards the supporters'. It's difficult to know where to start with analysing such farce.
There is so much more to say on Serbia, but I'll digress for the sake of avoiding wittering. Later that night brought about the shambolic situation in Poland that saw the match postponed until Wednesday 4PM GMT. At 7:30 viewers tuned in to catch England's World Cup qualifier tie against the Euro 2012 co-hosts Poland, but were instead greeted with images of torrential rain and a pitch covered with huge volumes of water puddles.
This despite the venue, The National Stadium of Poland, possessing a retractable roof which Adrian Chiles was keen to point out with frustrating regularity. And would you believe it, not a fork in sight! An hour past kick off - following a tedious sixty minutes of watching a fully qualified referee attempt to roll a ball along the surface multiple times - arrived the announcement all the suffering fans in the ground and viewers at home had expected; the game was to be rearranged, for the next day.
Still those who could return to the stadium for the game the next day would be full of optimism that England could really do some damage to the Poles. Sadly no such damage appeared evident with a dour 1-1 draw ensuing. Hodgson's side showed little inspiration and an overwhelming lack of creativity and attacking verve. Roy must shoulder some of the blame for setting up such a negative tactical strategy and leaving out the more exciting players such as Oxlade-Chamberlain, Baines and Adam Johnson. Against a side of Germany or Spain's ilk such a defensive lineup could be forgiven but not against a side currently ranked at 54th in the world. In my time watching the game I've seen more appealing 0-0 stalemates.
Meanwhile Wales and Scotland suffered convincing defeats at the hands of Croatia and Belgium respectively, both going down 2-0 away from home. Northern Ireland were probably the only UK side to be heading back with their heads held high for the weekday performances, having battled to an impressive point in a 1-1 draw with Portugal. Across Tuesday and Wednesday not a single UK representative picked up the full three points, a damning statement of the standards of the national sides.
Nevertheless it wasn't all disappointment as England beat San Marino convincingly and Wales also picked up a win against Scotland, both on Friday night. Three vital points towards qualification but it only served to remind of the gulf of class between European giants and minnows in England's case. There was a reason the bookies priced England at 1/200 to win the game and that was due to the ease of predictability for such a pointless fixture. Such miss-matches will only serve to decrease the value of the qualifiers and arguably take the minnows back further, encouraging negative tactics over skill and ability.
It is now with great relief to fans that players return to their clubs, in most cases unscathed and ready to continue the season this weekend. There has been a visible shift in supporter priorities after a failure too many for the UK's national sides, with the stands more passionate about the domestic side of the game and therefore players returning from duty fit and healthy is now more important arguably than achieving an international victory.
For all the negatives that the latest international break has highlighted, we must also praise the single positive. As a result of limited domestic exposure, smaller league and non-league clubs were able to gain a greater level of support on the weekend of 13th October. Various radio stations advertised and encouraged fans to visit their local teams ground to witness a different side to the beautiful game. From all reports and accounts it would appear that yet again the weekend was a great success for the clubs and new visitors, demonstrating the unknown talent of the lower leagues.
However I can't help but feel delighted to see Premier League and Championship action returning. This weekend alone viewers will be treated to such huge clashes as Tottenham vs Chelsea, Sunderland vs Newcastle and the Midlands derby between Birmingham and Leicester. Such juicy fixtures have been dearly missed. Andorra vs Estonia and Barrow vs Dartford just do not carry that extent of enthralment.
Welcome back Domestic football, show International football how it should be done.
image: © Wonker