Football 11/12: Ireland’s Problems

There are so many things wrong with the Irish national team, and the game against Slovakia showed many of them up in a glaring light.

First and foremost, is the general strategy and attitude, which is far too defensive and negative. Ireland are content to sit back and soak up pressure, to allow opposition teams the run of the ball, the rely on long ball passes and counter-attacks. But are long passes have receivers who are not able to do anything with them, and our counter-attacks are awful. Too often we break away out of our defence only for the ball to be at the feet of someone who has absolutely no support.

Secondly, the centre midfield, from which teams must be able to dominate and establish a presence, is non-existent in the Irish team. Whelan and Andrews are simply not good enough, and the result is a gaping hole, a hole that Slovakia were only too willing to exploit.

Third, management has the pig-headed trait of never accepting when things aren’t working. Adrian McGeady had an utterly shocking game the other night, and was only replaced by the much more capable Stephen Hunt within the last ten minutes. It is an unfortunate feature of Trapattoni, that he simply cannot accept that he has got it wrong, that things need changing on the pitch. He makes substitutions far too late for them to be effective.

Fourth, as evidenced all throughout his tenure, in the amount of players that either refuse to play for Ireland or have clashed with him, Trapattoni is a truly terrible man manager.

Fifth, Trapattoni still thinks that Robbie Keane, a forward long, long past his prime, is deserving of a place on this team.

Ireland have flattered to deceive throughout the Italian’s tenure, picking up lucky results and lucky goals. Russia showed us up badly in the first game between us, a fact disguised by the late two goals we pulled back. In Moscow, tomorrow, I feel that Ireland will finally receive a thrashing that has been long in the coming. Perhaps we can pull of another unlikely and fortunate result, but I do not feel that would be the optimum outcome.

If a hiding at the hands of the Russians is what it takes to finally make the FAI see the inherent weaknesses of Trapatoni, so be it. He is the wrong man to be in charge of this team, his negative strategy ill-fitting for such players who ply their trade in the attack-minded English league.

Ireland are capable of good attacking football when the occasion calls for it, as it did against France last year. But Trapattoni refuses to let this team play to their attacking potential.

 He has been an interesting experiment for the FAI to try, but the time has come for him to stand aside-or be forced to.

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