Due to some laptop repairs that I had to take care of, last week’s round-up had to be deferred.
For Limerick, it has been an interesting few weeks. The rumours abound that the club will be playing in Thomond Park next season, as the Market’s Field project looks increasingly unlikely to be prepared in time for a spring start. The expense of renting such a large facility is to be put up against the only other viable option – a temporary upgrading of Jackman Park – and Limerick have a clearly preferred option.
Naturally, Limerick will struggle to get many people in the 20k+ capacity stadium, but will at least be assured of license requirements for the coming season, and of very good facilities. The concern is about atmosphere of course, but the teams results, not the stadium, will be the primary factor in that.
The bigger news is Pat Scully of course. It is only to those unfamiliar with the details of Limerick’s season who are truly surprised at his sacking (for that is what it appears to be). Ever since the last defeat to Waterford it has been indicated that Scully’s future would be up for discussion. Limerick made a hard job out of what should have been an easy division, and Scully’s repeated failings as a manager must be regarded as a factor in that. His tactical choices, player selections and positioning, were all in question during the season. Limerick got promoted, but there wasn’t that much daylight in the outcome.
As for who will replace him, so many names are being bandied about. Brian Kerr, Peter Taylor, Stephen Kenny, Roddy Collins (sigh) and God knows how many others. Of more immediate concern to me is the number of players Limerick have failed to sign on for another year, with the number of Limerick affiliated players joining the “free transfer” list growing all the time. These things need to be sorted now, before too many good players – Gaffney, O’Leary, Collins – are allowed to leave the club.
Over to England then, where Manchester United’s defensive failings are again on full show, with the attack only making up for it in one game. Going behind to two teams that are, on the face of it, not of truly great quality in the form of Aston Villa and Norwich is bad. Hernandez put in a wonderful performance to claw it back for United last week, but the Canaries had a much stronger and consistent defensive effort after they took the lead. The return of Phil Jones in the next week will help matters I’m sure, but the defensive parts of the squad look like a heady mix of injury prone, past it, or just not good enough. Manchester City await within a month.
Arsenal managed to put five past Spurs in the big derby, but should not kid themselves into thinking that it was an accurate representation of their current level, what with the early sending off and all. Liverpool are, much to Brendan Rodgers relief I’m sure, improving game by game, but the concern that Suarez is all that’s between them and mediocrity is not unmerited.
Manchester City have finally kicked it into gear after numerous examples of slackness, with a thrashing of Aston Villa. Top of the table again, City may now kick it into higher gear in the league since their European dreams have been all but dashed.
Oh, and I almost forgot Ireland. Another boring, unenthusiastic performance from the team that Trap built against Greece, with some brief illumination from the likes of Brady and Hoolahan. But the likes of O’Shea, Whelan and Cox all demonstrated why they should not be entitled to a first team place anymore, and the entire exercise seemed rather pointless. There was nothing really new on display in terms of tactics and the Greeks were never troubled that much. With the Swedes beating England the same night, thanks to a world class display from Ibrahomivich. That is the kind of skill that Ireland are not currently capable of stopping.