Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Bamboozle Time


Well folks,
JJ here,

Well it’s that news vacuum called international week and but for Ronaldo and his mates there’s not much light relief out there. Okay there’s Jamie Redknapp with his classic “I think Peter Schmeichel will be a father figure for Kasper” but all in all we face into these weeks knowing that headlines generally arise from (a) players missing training and (b) players rabbiting on in press conferences about ‘no easy games’, ‘vital wins’, ‘massive matches’ and how they have ‘the best support in the world’.

But screw it, when in Rome, do as the hacks do, so here goes…

Taking a look at what Ireland have in front of them, there’s a daunting trip to Slovakia and then the Czech Republic; games that will shape Steve Staunton’s career with this team. Shorn of Bobby Robson, after yet another health scare, the Ireland manager needs six points, will keep his job with four or two but will be hounded out of the country if he gets none.

Ireland’s surprise 4-0 victory over Denmark hasn’t led to many people predicting easy wins over the next two games; the manager’s previous year in charge has, after all, been a bit too sobering to get carried away with things. Defeat to Cyprus still ranks as one of the worst moments in the last 20 years of Irish football so no one is going overboard.

Six points would leave Ireland in a very healthy position going into a home game against a German side that may have already qualified for the European Championships before they set foot on the Croke Park pitch in mid-October. Shay Given and Steve Finnan both look like they will be fit which is a huge bonus as the centre of our midfield is still very much open to question.

Lee Carsley may be assured of a place but beside him can Andy Reid, a man who’s barely played in six months, be counted on for a solid showing? Can Steven Ireland perform a job there when he continually runs to the wings? Can we stop Stan from picking Jonathan Feckin Douglas? It’s a big worry for Ireland fans – as is the form of Kevin Doyle whose missed penalty on Saturday was just what we didn’t want to see. It’d be far too early to think that Doyle is going through a crisis but still a goal at the weekend would have helped.

His probable strike partner – unless Stan decides to commit managerial suicide and play one up front, a system that never works with Ireland – is Robbie Keane who will be hungry (careful now) after being taken off by Martin Jol on Saturday in an effort to keep Jermaine Defoe and his oven obsessed girlfriend happy.

The Czech team have the formality (unless you’re Ireland) of a game against San Marino on Saturday and let’s face it all we can hope for is a rough journey or some injuries to upset them before next Wednesday, such is the miniscule chance they might actually lose points there.

I’d really like to predict a good week ahead for Ireland but I have a feeling they will come unstuck against a bruising Slovakia on Saturday and only get a draw. You would have to be very hopeful to think we could win away against the Czechs, who, by then, will be three points ahead with vastly superior goal difference should things pan out as I’m predicting.

Then again, I said Spurs would get fourth this year so hopefully this prediction goes tits up as well and Ireland head home with six points, some decent absinthe and the possibility of making it to next year’s finals. And if not, just get the absinthe lads, it soothes the pain.

7 comments:

Mark V said...

slovakia are no great team either, some decent players - cech, gresko, mintal but definitely no more than ireland. on saturday, what we need is staunton to stop messing with the team, pick the best players in the best positions and let them at at it.

the fact that we're afraid of this team is a shame. respect them - yes, and we could lose it, as any team can lose any game of football. but ireland should be positive and rely on players that are, man for man, better than the opposition.

ireland are traditionally poor on the road and this could be in their minds but really, they should look for a win. just wait for stan to mess it up

Mr C said...

With Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland all having an outside chance of getting out of tricky groups in comparison to England's one, this is all sobering reading.

Its not to unreasonable to think that Ireland could well turn over Slovakia and then play ten behind the ball in Prague. Four points wouldn't be too bad, surely?

To deviate somewhat and possibly a topic for a future article, what do two Irishmen make of the possibility Celtic international tournament.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/internationals/6981446.stm
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/internationals/6981446.stm

Mr C said...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/internationals/6981446.stm

Mark said...

i think the celtic league would be great, way better than friendly games, a good bit of rivalry for the fans and chance of a trophy. i can't see anything wrong with it (yet) and I would turn up quicker to watch it tahn I would for a friendly

JJ said...

Yeah me too, I like the idea of it. England will shy away from any 'home nations' as one defeat against Norn Iron or indeed any of the other celtic nations constitutes a sacking offence. Better than the feckin US cup anyway.

Gordon Smith has apparently been a good appointment by the sfa too and looks like a man who might get things into action sooner rather than later. Liked his idea on tackling the problem of diving with video evidence and possible suspensions the day after too. Anyone who pisses off uefa with such suggestions is alright by me.

Mal said...

What's the story with Defoe's mrs and the oven? I was away for a week and am only catching up on my RSS feeds now.

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