The world of international football is a curios place. Recently, we had Graeme Souness declare that Tottenham midfielder Andros Townsend had “Done nothing in the game” – despite scoring a goal on his England debut. Then, Noel King makes known his view that RTE’s coverage is “Like a comedy” and “antiquated”.
Part of what the interim manager declared would be agreed with. However, in my view, he went too far when responding to the television output when he said “Real football people know what went on out there”. It’d be agreed that the three have become stale and tiresome but to insult the football knowledge of two of them – two of the greatest players this country ever produced – was wrong
People know what went on alright. He was given a chance to do something different, more positive, than what went on in the last era, and made a complete mess of it. Reasoning that King was only in the job for two games that were more or less irrelevant doesn’t stack. John Giles was at least right about one thing – you have to take each game on its merits!
Notwithstanding the limitations which were acknowledged in summarising Trapattoni’s tenure, it has to be said that against Germany, at least, the man in charge fell into the same trap as the Italian – not making best use of the resources that were available to him. Thus, what transpired on the night in question was more circus than comedy show.
Glenn Whelan’s suitability for international fare is questionable enough as it is, but he certainly won’t be seen at his best on the wing. The same applies to Kevin Doyle. Putting him out there is about as effective as putting David Forde up front.
On the subject of the Milwall ‘keeper, it must be said that were it not for him Ireland may have been beaten by far more than three. He’s not the youngest, though, and you wonder where the future lies regarding goalkeeping in the national team. If the incoming supremo hasn’t the same aversion to throwing the net a bit wider that the Italian was inhibited by, Darren Randolph may get an overdue go.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment of the Germany game was the failure of the manager to make any substitutions at all. After all, that was one of the big bugbears of the end of Trapattoni’s tenure – failure to best utilise the – albeit limited – resources at his disposal.
For all that, mind you, there were positives to take from the German game – if put in the right context. Forde’s excellence between the posts not only averted a repeat of the 6-1 humiliation but also allays goalkeeping fears in the short term at least. Most encouraging, maybe, was the combined efforts of Darron Gibson and James McCarthy in central midfield.
Fate works in mysterious ways. That combination had given Ireland a foothold not seen in recent games. Newly appointed Everton manager Roberto Martinez is obviously a fan of McCarthy having brought him with him from Wigan. He’d spoken highly of Gibson too. Sadly it appears that the two may not get the opportunity to flourish together for quite a while following what looked like a fairly serious knee injury sustained by the unfortunate Gibson against the Kazaks. That said, they’re two young man, so, when Gibson does hopefully make a full recovery it would be intriguing to see them combine again, if they are – as they should be – afforded the opportunity to.
Despite what has at times been a chaotic period for Irish football, I genuinely believe there are reasons to be hopeful going forward. First off, though, the proper process needs to be engaged in to ensure the right appointment is made. And that may not always be the initial – or most popular – choice.
All the early talk surrounded Martin O’Neill – that seems to have dissipated. No strong view for or against his candidacy would be held here. The hunch, at this stage, would be that those making the decision may be awaiting developments elsewhere before making their move. That might bring Chris Hughton into the equation. Bringing Mick McCarthy back may be a bit retrograde but mightn’t be the worst thing either.
Whoever comes in will have plenty of talent to work with. Even in the dying embers of King’s fleeting stopover it was evident. Seamus Coleman continues to develop into a truly great player. Ciaran Clark could do likewise. Aiden McGeady showed flashes of the creativity that was wrongly stifled by the previous regime. Andy Reid showed what Irish football has been missing for years.
Gibson’s injury is a blow. It could open the door for someone else to shine though. The players are there to take Irish football to a better place than where it is now. Foremost among hopes going forward is that the manager – whoever it ends up being – gets the best out of the players available. That hasn’t happened for a long time.