State of Play: Ireland 2 Russia 3

Póg Mo Goal’s no-holds-barred player ratings

 

FRIDAY night was a sad night and perhaps confirmed what we all may have suspected in the back our minds – that Trapattoni seems to be a very rigid tactician and that we haven’t really improved greatly on our previous managers’ regimes – i.e. has he encouraged the team to play ball, or is this down to the players? – it’s hard to know and Richard Dunne’s comments after the game blurred the situation even further.

Shay Given – did quite well and can’t be blamed for any of the goals. As one of my colleagues in the press box said to me at the game – “Shay Given is our play maker”. A sad indictment on our current lack of footballing guile. (To be honest I wasn’t in the press box – I wished I wasn’t even in the stadium for much of the game.)

Kevin Kilbane – looked every bit the player that has struggled to hold down a place with an average Championship side. When I was younger man, I had a pet dog – this dog was with me all through my youth. She served me well. She lived to be a great age for a dog but in the end she was s**tting herself regular and had lost the control of her kidneys, bowels and was drooling blood frequently. I brought her to the vet often. Each time he said she would be better off if I put her down. I disagreed and fed her a load of drugs to keep her ticking over. In the end I had to come to a decision. I brought her to the vet and he put her down. I think its time Trapattoni brought Kilbane to the vet.

Sean St. Ledger – I argued here last time out that St. Ledger has done OK for us but hasn’t really been tested. I stand by that argument now. Frequently St. Ledger was tactically out of his depth and never could come to terms with midfielders making runs or interchanging with strikers. His line was attrocious. Again it comes down to the fact that these tactical nuances do not occur in the Championship in England and arguably it’s Trap’s fault not to make him aware of this.

Richard Dunne – along with John O’Shea, Dunne was our best player and did his best to play ball, going on one noticably mazy dribble. Dunne will never be a world-class player but he is a very very very good player. He makes a few mistakes and does get skinned from time to time but makes up for all of this with an unbelievable natural determination. I genuinely felt for the man last Friday night.

John O’Shea – Had a very good game and got through a lot of work considering he had zero cover ahead of him. Should be in the middle with Dunne instead of trying to accommodate other limited defenders.

Paul Green – Arguably one of the worst and the most out-of-depth performances I have seen from an Irish central midfielder in my memory.

Glenn Whelan – Whelan has featured for Stoke this season but mostly in a bit role capacity. I thought in Paris he looked like a man coming of age. I was wrong. Whelan consistently got into positions where he wasn’t free to take a pass. He offered zero shield and between himself and Paul Green, they allowed Roman Shirokov the run of the country in the middle of the pitch.

Liam Lawrence – he was always going to struggle against a full back with Zhirkov’s pace and Premiership/Champion’s League pedigree. He tries his hardest Lawrence but is very slow at this level making it next to impossible to give the front two service.

Aiden McGeady – like Ronaldo he stops moving as soon as he loses the ball – like someone has plugged his joypad out in PES. But, like Ronaldo, when running at players he is a threat and does have a genuine cut of class about him. Unlike Ronaldo, he is meek and his end product tends to be tame though he was unlucky that someone didn’t finish off his good work in a chaotic spell in the first half. Probably his best game for Ireland.

Kevin Doyle – put in a good, if thankless, shift once again. He did have a few half-chances and you would have expected him to work the goalie a lot more than he did. It was strange that he wasn’t kept on the pitch given the Blitzkrieg nature of the last 20 minutes i.e. surely a man who is this strong in the air would have prospered against a shaky Russian defence.

Robbie Keane – dispatched his penalty well and can always be relied on in that department. Robbie has lost a half yard and this showed on numerous occasions when he was put through with chances that would have had allowed other strikers to work the goalie – ie Pavelychenko, Defoe, Crouch. The usual “the whole world is against me, it’s not f**king fair!!” gesticulation after every decision against him never ceases to anger me. It’s an awful side to the man’s game. He can thank the home support for the peno – he wouldn’t have got that in Russia. Still though the man has 40-odd international goals and a really hot wife. The lucky c**t.

Shane Long – made a big difference in the death ball/long ball chaos of the last 20 mins.

Keith Fahey – he too played his part. I think after Duff and McGeady, he is our most technical midfielder (saving James McCarthy, Stephen Ireland and Andy Reid of course)

Darren Gibson – it defeats the purpose of bringing a player on who has a fantastic shooting ability if every ball is going to be launched over him. You get the impression Trapattoni doesn’t have a lot of time for Gibson. He opted for Whelan and Green as they, in his view, would provide a defensive screen to the back four. Trapattoni got this seriously wrong as they provided nothing of the sort. Gibson must start on Tuesday because even if all he  contributes is a few shots – at least this would be something.

Where do we go from here? All eyes are on the manager but one has to fear the worst…

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