Ranty Cause: I’m gonna rant and you’re gonna listen
SO THE dust has settled on Friday night and after reading the weekend’s reports and re-watching the game again (well speeded up) on Saturday morning, it was still very very depressing. We seemed to have fallen into our old routines giving away soft goals, humping the ball forward, no real game plan and certainly no plan B.
Dick Advocaat made an interesting point after the game when he mentioned that his team played between the lines of Ireland which illustrates how rigid we were in our banks of four.
It was shocking how much we played as the away team, defensively sat back, and how much we gave the Russians space and time on the ball.
Before the game the RTE panel were upbeat and confident of success saying how the tie was set up for us especially considering the Armenia result.
A lot of our team are not in the starting eleven for their clubs and it appears that this caught up with us on Friday night.
Despite the horror show of the first half, at the break the wise boys argued that we weren’t out of the game, that we hadn’t played but Russia were uncomfortable in defence.
Chippy was chipping away at Arshavin (pardon the pun) saying he was a waste of space, surprising given his club allegiances. They seemed to think Russia only had the Gunners star to call on.
Glenn Whelan was willing but off the pace and Paul Green didn’t seem up to the standard. It surprised me how much game-time the central players got. We all know that we have a small squad but surely the point of having a squad is to utilise it better.
Richard Dunne made a very interesting point in his post-match comments saying that when Shay has the ball, they all turned to face up field and no one was interested in taking the ball from him. He also mentioned that they were afraid to pass and they needed to take more responsibility, come short for the ball off Shay, play through the middle.
The criticism that Kilbane keeps getting whilst mostly accurate is not fair. Kevin is a willing servant of Irish football and surely it’s not up to him to lose his place but for the likes of Coleman and Kelly to seize the position from him. Although, admittedly, Kevin has done his best from time to time to try and oust himself from the team.
It also has to be pointed out that if the world and his dog knows Kevin is no great shakes at the back, how he doesn’t get cover from his teammates is beyond me.
Sean St. Ledger never looks comfortable on the ball and always has the panics when it screams out to him to come forward with it. Saying that, at one stage he did carry the ball into the opposition’s area in the second half. I have it taped so I know!
The Euro Extra programme on RTE was excellent viewing. You can tell that Gilesy and Dunphy like or admire Traps, and just want the best for Ireland. They’re not lashing into the team as much anymore. I think they know we’re limited but want us to play like we did in Paris.
It is obvious that we are lacking leader’s on the park, that our defence is content to not make individual mistakes. We are crying out for a midfielder to get control and pass the ball to another colleague which probably points out why we need to lose a goal or have the feeling of nothing to lose before we have the freedom to play; Italy away, France away being prime examples.
Aiden McGeady commented that we ended up playing a 4-2-3-1 formation which might be interesting to explore in games. John O’Shea has at last turned into a fine player. Maybe use him in a diamond formation in the centre of the park, in the Makelele role? So you have three centre-backs and a holding midfielder minding the shop. Admittedly O’Shea is the midfielder and the centre-back in that scenario.
Robbie is certainly lacking match fitness and sharpness and doesn’t have the legs for playing upfront anymore but couldn’t he do a job in the Zola tip of the diamond role? Also if Robbie is more involved he might stop throwing himself to the ground at every opportunity.
We are blessed with some exciting attacking players like Duff, McGeady, and Keane. Why not free them up and let them play? You can still have the cover in defence, the platform to protect the house, that Traps is so fond of.
We all know we are a team that has been in decline for a number of years, but we should utilise what talent we have. Traps is showing himself as a man who is not interested in bending or changing his game plan, and his comments from over the weekend, saying we were unlucky and an offside goal stopped us from claiming a point, are not good signs.
Also the fact that James McCarthy hasn’t got back into squad since he excused himself in the summer for being tired is slightly worrying.
We have all seen how well the team can play, and I think the football public in Ireland is savvy enough to know that we can take being beaten if we feel the team is playing well or in progression. Unfortunately Friday’s game was a lesson in football for us, and early news from Slovakia regarding Trap’s intentions tomorrow night suggest that we’re not learning.