The spud that broke the camel’s back. Spud Watch has been locked away all summer chiselling out this review of last season’s climax and a lot has happened since we last spoke. Ireland picked up their first silverware since the Iceland Cup and since Harry Ramsden’s closed down. Here’s Part One of our look back at all things Irish football followed by some belligerence, and some transfer news.
How our spuds fared:
Paul McShane was arguably the best player on the pitch against Scotland and usually when Paul McShane is the best player on the pitch you can only assume it’s at a testimonial match involving celebrities like Brian McFadden. But this wasn’t.
Darron Gibson looked on from the stands for much of the end of the season for Man United. Even though he scored in the Champions League semis, he played no part in the decider as Ferguson sacrificed a few midfielders to man-mark Messi.
Carl Cox – I remember taking an instant dislike to him at Creamfields when taking a pile of bad mushrooms a few years back but, in truth, I never heard of him until the week before the Macedonia game. I feel I have let you down somewhat as I didn’t pick him up on the spud radar.
Carl Cox could be next season’s Jon Walters.
Hopefully next season’s Jon Walters doesn’t end up being pre-2009 Jon Walters.
Glenn Whelan’s showing against Macadonia was right up there with his worst (and there have been many). Also, the commentator on ITV said it just wasn’t his day at the FA Cup final. Can anyone ever remember when it was Glenn Whelan’s day?
Paul Green – cleared Double Dragon, watched all of Season 2 of the ‘Friends’ box-set.
Tony Stokes – you fat lazy idiot. Those last two weeks of international duty could have given you the chance to show a Premier League club that Conor Sammon isn’t just a fish in the pan. Another fantastic bit of man-management by old man Stokes.
Stephen Ireland fades back into being football’s recluse like Kate Bush did 20 years ago. She lives alone in a big house rarely doing interviews, playing sporadically. He’ll be 25 soon, then 26. Usually age 26 or 27 is when realisation and regret sets in and ultimately nothing quells it but lots of drink and lots of drugs. But you are only remembered if people think you wasted something.
So what thoughts will go through his head?
“Did I ever really have talent?” Should I spray-paint my children pink? “Did I waste my career?” “Should I wear my spiderman costume while shopping down in Asda?” “Will what I do next ever be as good as what went before”? “How come Peter Parker and Spiderman were never in the same room at the same time?”
Well here’s what I think;
The one thing I have learned over the last six weeks is that we do indeed get enough. Each and every one of us gets enough. It may not seem apparent right now but we do. And the same applies to our national football team. There are enough players around to make our football team what it should be. We do have enough talent ,if they were all playing. We could have a really good team but “enough” means we need central-midfield players. We still need Stephen Ireland more than he needs us. It pains me. But…
Richie Dunne and Ciaran Clark finished the season on a bit of a low note – Clark was injured and dropped to the bench. It wasn’t a good time for the Irish under Houillier’s tenure. Thankfully, his reign of terror is over. Maybe Dunne can hone Clarke into a centre-half which we are crying out for right now.
I think Trapattoni’s treatment of Seamus Coleman has been both foolish and inconsiderate. The Italian insists on not only picking players that aren’t getting much club football, if any, but also prioritising them ahead of others. But he didn’t give Coleman the same treatment as these lesser shitehawks. And Coleman needed it just as much, as for the last third of his season it was glaringly obvious that he was struggling a bit at Everton. Seamus should have been given an opportunity. Most likely we will need to go to Russia to score a goal and I don’t fancy our chances without him in our team. Macedonia away was the perfect chance to get him used that competitive experience in a hostile environment.
Incidentally our back-four performance against Macedonia was the worst I have seen in my memory. Amazingly they didn’t concede. Shay showed why he is probably still the second-best goalie in the Premier League despite not actually playing in it.
Given and Robbie Keane played more in the last week of Irish duty than they did all season combined. Given was awesome against Macedonia and could do nothing about the behaviour of the clowns in front of him for the penalty. It was calamitous. Four Irish defenders hadn’t a clue where they were or where Pandev was. They looked liked four grown men blindfolded running around at a Sergio Burlesconi bunga-bunga party.
Stephen Ward’s goal in the second last week of the season was a lot like Gazza’s against the Scots in Euro 96.
I didn’t think they would do it without Kevin Doyle, but I underestimated Mick McCarthy and I am glad I was wrong. Thanks to Mick, Ireland will now have at least four and maybe five players that will play most weeks in the Premier League.
Highlight of the season
Looking back on the year for the Irish;
Coleman’s emergence stands out. A decent goal tally but his fading at the end of the term was not helped by Trapattoni’s continual lack of attention.
James McCarthy’s double against Chelsea and a few shots and flicks afterwards.
Keith Fahey and Stephen Carr winning medals.
Darron Gibson joining the long and illustrious list of genuinely bone fide untalented Irish charlatans doing well abroad.
They’re Coming To America
Caleb Folan now has an MLS winner’s medal. He’s making it big over in foreign.
Caleb follows a long line of Irish people trying to make it in Amerikay.
Recent examples include The Script who are making a lot of money over there. Fair play to them I say because there’s a market for this sh*tty muzak and they might as well be Irish lads cashing in as opposed to some other knobends like Milford and C*nts, or Coldpay, or those utter sh*theads Snow Patrol. If Ed Byrne makes it big over there, I will kill myself and I’ll be taking others with me. Liz Bonin is another who’s off trying to crack America, probably in non-speaking roles. Nadine Coyle is probably best off never speaking and as the split from her footballing fiancé suggests, perhaps she wasn’t much good in the non-speaking role either.
The pile of drivelling musical effluent that U2 have produced post-Joshua Tree is enough to make a man drink his own piss with anger. If they had any shred of decency they would donate all of their earnings post-1989 to the black babies. This would be the morally correct thing to do by Bono’s two biggest passions, 1) music and 2) poverty. They have cut enough timber off Joshua Tree to burn world hunger forever. Put that in a song Bono you “saint”.
Speaking of saints, Sean St Sh*t-hammer was left facing a famine of his own until he got signed by perennial degenerate football manager, Sven Goran Eriksson at Leicester City. St Ledger played a valuable part in his former club Preston’s besmirchment and relegation to League 1. The player was left coming to terms with the Irish zeitgeist of taking a big pay cut, now that his employers are operating in a lower league. That was until the evergreen Sven Eriksson came in and rescued him. I am one of those morons who stays up late on a Monday night to watch the goals review of the Championship (I used to watch “The Equaliser” on Monday nights but since Edward Woodward passed on it doesn’t feel right masturbating to it anymore), and anyone who has watched this guy play knows that he is awful.
Our manager is Italian, a country that prides itself on producing some of the greatest defenders in the history of the game, some of which Trappatoni worked alongside, and clearly, and I genuinely believe this, Tardelli and Trapattoni are not attending any of these matches. One only has to watch a few weeks of highlights packages to know that Sean St Ledger is terrible. I reckon he doesn’t even stay up late on a Monday like me to watch this show. I’m pretty sure Trap is probably in bed at this stage so that he can get up early next day to laugh all the way to the bank, collecting his wads of wages from the FAI, entering the bank and using his money-counting machine, and then loads it into bags as “Push it to the limit” plays in the background. F*ck Sean St Ledger and f*ck the f*cking Diaz brothers.
Stephen Kelly – Zero. Lives alone. Finds himself crying a lot. Is being linked with a move to Rodney and Del Boy’s beloved QPR. This time next year he’ll be a millionaire. Or in the Championship.
Damian Duff continues where he left off. He’s scored one and set up two in Fulham’s first two games in the Michael Mouse League. This is good for us. This is very good. Let’s hope with this U19 underage tournament another Duff emerges. He still has that look on his face since the first time we saw him in that Under 20 tournament in 1997, likes he’s carrying Kuato around in his stomach. Lee Carsley looked very like Kuato and indeed this was how he qualified to play for us as Kuato (a Carlow native) was his uncle (F*ck off editor).
Duff is already off the mark and scored a decent goal against Donald Duck in the early stage of the Europa League. He looked as blistering as he did last February/March. This may be our last year with a Duff that can touch on class at times. It’s imperative we qualify for this European Championship as the Duff as we have known him will probably begin to slide. We have to qualify for this thing now. It has to happen now.
It’s been a season where it’s been very hard to like Robbie Keane. The nature of his move to West Ham to ensure he kept his high wages was the sign of a mercenary in love with money more than football. But, Slovakia away aside, it hasn’t affected his international form as much as some thought it would, especially with him being a striker; at the core of which must be playing regularly.
I guess we must credit him for that. Even though he may be in love with money, he’s equally in love with playing for his country and Robbie scored more goals in that two week international break than he did all season at club level. He, and many others, deserve to play at a major competition where, given his international form, you never know what he might do. Plus there will be a nice lump of cash as a bonus for qualifying. Keane won’t say no to that.
Whenever I am at my lowest ebb with him, with his annoying and frustrating ways, when my body fills up with bilious hatred for the man, I try to think of how I felt in the 89th minute against Spain in 2002. My body struggling with alcohol consumption that had begun at seven in the morning and caused me to piss myself frequently as I tried to cope with the Korean/Japanese time zone. As I sat in that dingy Mullingar sh*thole, covered in my own urine, full of Harp Lager World Cup Special Brew (stale piss left over from Mexico 86), full of morose attributed by Kevin Kilbane and Ian Harte’s descent into footballing debasement, a ballsy Irish 22-year-old stood up and took a technically perfect penalty. I try to remember this every time I see him acting the prick, complaining and celebrating goals like an autistic meerkat.
Fifty-one goals is not to be sniffed at and I bet Bobby Charlton would be gutted right now…had he not gone on to win the multiple FA Cups, League titles, the Eurpoean Cup and the World Cup…then he would be gutted right now.
Shay Given – FA Cup
Keith Fahey, Stephen Carr – League Cup
Caleb Folan – MLS
Ireland – Carling Nations Cup 2011.
Paul McShane – Ireland’s sexiest redhead (Longford Leader)
Glen Whelan, Marc Wilson, Jon Walters, Rory Delap….Jermaine Pennant – FA Cup
John O’Shea, Darren Gibson – Champions League
Shane Long, Noel Hunt, Ian Harte – Championship Playoff