Spud Watch Mid-Summer Bonanza Part 3

Part 3 of the Mid-Summer bonanza. Ahead of the resumption of the international season, in another moment of profound enlightenment, Spud Watch compares the Ireland midfield predicament with trying to chat up young ones. The only shifting going on at Lansdowne Road is the crowd moving uncomfortably in their seats.

Green with embarrassment?

Looking at our team-sheet for the Saturday evening Macedonia game, I thought that Trapattoni had got fraped or dog-raped or whatever it is the young people say these days and if the match wasn’t bad enough, I was infuriated by the player ratings on Greenscene.ie

Normally a great little website this, but these ratings are ridiculous.

If Whelan and Andrews were unable to take hold of the ball and stop Macedonia from playing, surely the least we require is that they offer a shield. They did neither. The worst back-four performance in recent memory. The manager is blessed with luck, and if that means fluking our way to a major championship then I’m not going to complain but these ratings are nothing more than propaganda. I’m not a begrudger, I want us to win more than anyone, but I’m not accepting this nonsense. For shame Greenscene. A spade is a spade, and a spade, a shovel or indeed a bag of sh*t would be better than Glenn Whelan.

Reasons to be Cheerful? Part 1

I would still have Paul McGrath at his lowest ebb with no knees or arms or legs left in the Irish team ahead of Paul “Block head” McShane. Do not forget, 2002, Ireland vs Finland away and an emaciated looking Graham Barrett spearheaded a 3-0 win on a night when lots of young guns were blooded.

Don’t forget Stan vs Sweden in 2006. Both of these games were seen as the emergence of new talent and reasons to be cheerful and optimistic. It hasn’t happened.

Am I the only one who is getting genuinely upset on seeing Glenn Whelan? Only the left and top left buttons work on his joypad.

Keith Andrews, to be fair, scored a great goal against Italy and he does strike a ball extremely well 45% of the time, He looked like a footballer in that game in the same way Matt Holland used to. Like France away in 2009, with teams coming on to us away from home there is far less, if any, pressure on central midfield. The onus is not on them to dictate the game, unlike when they are at home. So we allow for their short-comings.

Being a central-midfielder playing at home is a lot like going out sober on your own trying to get the ride. There’s nowhere to hide and the pressure is on. You are completely exposed. You have no friends to go back to when you get rejected. You are aware that everyone can see your endeavours and this feeds further into your every lowering self-esteem. You have to be brave time after time and make it happen all by yourself and shut it all out, without using booze or the condolences of your mates.

If you can make it happen when you are on your own, if you can go out sober and get the ride, then you will go down as one of the all-time greats. Roy Keane could do it on his own. He could go out alone. Probably because he didn’t have too many friends.

I digress a little but when you are away from home, it is like you are out with your friends. Maybe you can hang on the fringe of the group trying to talk to women as they pass by, and if they ignore you, you still have the comfort of the bunch to fall back and try to laugh off the fact that she completely blanked you. This a lot easier when you’re with a gang of lads. In fact, it’s simple. And these plebs who go on about how great they are at pulling women when out with the group and while drinking will never go down in the record books. Keith Andrews and Glenn Whelan are of this ilk. They “get women away from home.” Anyone can do that.

Away against Italy, Pirlo aside, the Azzuri must have had their minds on Sergio Burlesconi’s end of season bukakke party planned at some Cornetto warehouse in Turin. So, like France away, Keith Andrews ended up looking like the great John Sheridan.

I am not buying into this and remain sceptical. If Trapattoni keeps getting by on luck then nobody will care what I think but there’s only so much good fortune that the good Lord will dish out to ardent Catholic Giovanni while he continues to pick the same bucket of stink. He must start to do some genuine research, start attending games in England, start monitoring the progress of the players, instead of basing his squad selections on some soccer pullout from the Woman’s Weekly which would at least give him the opportunity of buying some jam rags in bulk. I believe even these would be a better option in central defence.

Reasons to be cheerful? Part2

Trap hasn’t done anything to come up with an alternative to our midfield situation. The results of the last few games really smokescreen the issue, the root of all our problems.

Our central midfield, a team’s engine, is in ribbons. We are leaking sh*t everywhere. The proverbial sugar in the engine is the Whelan-Andrews axis, with Darren Gibson being sh*t in his own different way. He’s more like when some stoned young lad working in Statoil puts petrol into a diesel engine. The engine will spit sparks (the long range shot) but mostly the vehicle lies in a state of paralysis.

Trapattoni is that stoned young lad in Statoil who doesn’t really give a shite because he’s still getting paid. The customers are still going back because Statoil have a savage young one working in the deli, but what people don’t see, and what will be exposed again against Russia, is that even though they are erratic, it’s still the same team.

The only difference right now is that Stephen Hunt, Aiden McGeady, Duff and, to a lesser extent, Coleman are in better form, and if it were me, I would just pick four wingers. What have we got to lose? The players Trapattoni picks don’t perform as central midfielders should.

Stephen Hunt gives a back-four more cover than Whelan/Andrews/Gibson ever would.

Keith Fahey is also better but he seems to be fourth choice behind them and he’ll be in the Championship next year which won’t help him or us much. Or maybe he will play every week as Birmingham offload big wage-earners but I don’t think Trap sees the Dubliner in his top three options. In fact I don’t think Trap can see three feet ahead of him.

Reasons to be cheerful? Part 3

James McCarthy could end up being every bit as good as Ya Ya Toure in a few years but equally he could end up being a poor man’s Alan McLoughlin. Bitter, twisted and misanthropic like Rab C Nesbit when his Christmas giro bonus got cut.

The only thing that gives me solace at night-time is the thought that on the five occasions I saw David Meyler play, he looked like a pasty Michael Essien.

Kevin Foley in midfield? Was this an effort at trying to come up with an alternative? Or was Trapattoni merely trying to get all of his team to fit on to the pitch? Like in PES when your Masterleague team has eleven strikers on it. And Fat Ronaldo is in goals doing step-overs and having epileptic fits every time he sees someone wearing Nike boots.

Was this an effort to see if Foley could “do a job” as Mick McCarthy used to say? But Foley is a full-back. I used to think this was ludicrous. But then we do need an alternative. Why not try playing our third goalie there? Randolph? Preposterous as it may seem, would he be any worse than the axis of evil already there? I’m sad. I should be glad. But I am sad.

It’s a results based-industry and we are blessed with luck so far. And I don’t mind if we just get by on that but what has changed since we last played Russia? St Ledger is still awful. Fair play to O’Dea. He seized his chance and did quite well but he is still not very good. A technical midfield sniffs out a sh*thouse like St Ledger the first time they get possession and look up. And because our central midfield pairing always gives a technical opponent time on the ball, this is why we get ass-raped.

You mark my words. You can call me bitter, a kill-joy. I am neither. I am a realist. Holland at home in 2001 – Keane didn’t give Cocu the chance to have a look at how sh*t our back four was then (with all due respect to Staunton (sluggish), Dunne (he’s ten times the player now), Gary Kelly (somewhere between gung-ho and idiotic). If Macedonia were allowed to this, and they were, they would have rode us anally, and they did, much to the chagrin of our back four.

Now, of course, the other side of this is what happens when the other team don’t have the ball? Are we not more likely to hold on to the ball if it’s with Hunt, Duff, Coleman, or McGeady? Luck will only get you so far and I think, if we are all being honest, karma has very much repaid to us since Paris 2009. Since then we’ve had penalties, teams have missed sitters against us (Macedonia home and away) Scotland’s best young players of the last five years have decided to play for us.

Jon Walters and Leon Best finished in the top scorers list in the Premier League.

Our manager must pray all day everyday with this type of Catholic luck, but he is sinning my friends. He is a sinner.

It’s a, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a sin (in a Neil Tennant sounding voice)

It is a sin. Seamus Coleman and Shane Long should have started games or at the very least featured a lot more than they did. Granted, they both had relatively poor finishes to the season with regard to their previous form. Yet, their confidence is more important than giving some other shitehawks game-time who, even when playing well, are still extremely limited. Had Shane Long played and scored in one or two of those four Ireland games, he would most likely be at a Premier League club already.

Why not pick Coleman away to Macedonia, even for just a few minutes, playing in a cauldron of noise? Now we face the prospect of probably having to go to Russia away looking to score a goal and Coleman experiencing it for the first time.

Am I nit-picking? Nit-picking implies everything is rosey to begin with.

We have a delightful pastry-finished shepherds pie – but inside the pie, the filler is mostly shite, pure shite.

It’s easy to look good when people keep chipping balls on to your head or you get predictable shots to block (Sean St Ledger, Darren O’Dea) but when you’re faced with someone with a turn of pace, who can pass, or a striker in the hole or any midfielder from this season’s Championship, then you face exposure my friend.

When you’re trying to play offside, watch your man, watch the runner, predict if he’s going to pass or shoot or pull you out, when your faced with this, then my friend, you’re not really where it’s at now are you? (Axis of evil plus Sean St Ledger plus continual picking of Paul McShane and Keith Treacy)

Forde; he’s a jolly good goalie

The Italy clash, however, was of great benefit to David Forde. This is a tough time in international football for a goalkeeper, the formative games. When you see how quickly this can ruin you (Green/Carson for England and how international football diminished their worth overnight, so early into their careers, helped in no small part by the manager) but luck too plays its part.

If you’re lucky you don’t get bobbly balls to deal with, crosses at awkward heights, shots that babble and squirm that mili-second before it comes to you. When it does happen, all of a sudden you’re Frank Spencer and your esteem melts into the ground. There’s nowhere to hide, a mixture of laughter and anger from the gallery – like when you can’t maintain an erection after your fourth date and you’ve been drinking pernod and milk. You feel like sh*t and you end the relationship, quit international football and before you even have time to restore some confidence and get in some sex practice with some 80 euros for half an hour on Escort Ireland’s “Tramp of the Month”, you run into some of your former girlfriend’s friends who tell you Joe Hart is riding your X like a solar powered jackhammer in mid-July down the Messisgiorno. This is a metaphor; it’s time to leave that field Shay.

The real pluses out of the end of the season came from Stephen Hunt and Stephen Ward. Against Italy I thought, after Hunt, Ward was the best player on the pitch. He looks like the best left-back we’d had since Denis Irwin. Tenacious in forward movement and tough in the tackle. No doubt he won’t feature there again as he only plays for a Premier League club and not Huddersfield.

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