With the season almost over, all eyes will turn to the World Cup in Brazil. Of course, Ireland won’t be there and the selection of Seamus Coleman and Andy Reid in their respective teams of the year is yet another indictment of Giovanni Trapattoni’s philosophy as Irish manager. They also make a mockery of the argument that we don’t have ball-players.
Of course in the fall-out from Euro 2012, the ex-Irish coach had finally seen the light and integrated Coleman into the starting line-up but the Everton full-back who was nominated for Young Player of the Year in 2011 and won the club equivalent at Goodison Park had watched the Euros from his armchair.
The former Sligo Rovers star was already rated among the English game’s top young players but he was never part of Trapattoni’s plans for the finals. In Poland, Ireland’s defence was hopelessly exposed while our attacking threat consisted entirely of wayward thumps from the back-line. Coleman would have greatly enhanced both.
The Donegalman finally got his chance in the Irish team as Trapattoni attempted to overhaul the side in the wake of our elimination. Despite a thumping at the hands of Germany, Coleman emerged from the Lansdowne Road massacre with his reputation enhanced. Further massively impressive displays came against England in Wembley and world champions Spain in New York while Noel King bestowed the captaincy on the defender for the away qualifier with Germany, another show of faith in his ability.
The 25-year-old is enjoying his best year in an Everton shirt although sadly the Toffees’ Champions League drive looks to have faded. Coleman has contributed seven goals, was named man-of-the-match at Old Trafford, and has been rewarded with a place in the Premier League Team of the Year. The full-back may yet feature in the European Cup next season with media reports linking Arsenal with the Irishman.
“It was King who finally fielded an international team with both Coleman and our other stand-out ball-player Andy Reid in our final World Cup qualifier against Kazakhstan.”
The interim coach wasted no time in recalling the Notts Forest midfielder after a five-year absence but left him on the bench in Cologne.
Regardless of Trapattoni’s success in qualifying for Euro 2012, his entire tenure as Irish boss was marred by constant criticism of the midfield performances. Reid’s exile was well publicised but within minutes of his recall, the Dubliner showed what the Republic had been missing, looking to gain possession and create.
Reid has suffered highs and lows in his footballing career but has enjoyed one of his best ever seasons this campaign at the age of 31. He’s scored 10 goals and was the chief driver behind Forest’s early push for promotion.
Now the player who starred for Ireland’s U16 European Championship winning-side looks set to play a major part in the quest by Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane to bring us to the senior version in France.
Upon his unveiling, O’Neill told a dubious Irish press there was talent in the squad he had inherited. Coleman and Reid’s selections among the best players in their divisions back up O’Neill’s view. His predecessor in the Irish dug-out took a more dim perspective of the quality as his disposal but his team’s performances lived down to his expectations. O’Neill, Keane, Coleman, and Reid are tasked with raising Ireland’s now.
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