Monday, 19 November 2007

Weekend Reflections

Hi All,

International week is half way through, and only a few more days of misery to go.

Ireland got a 2-2 draw in Wales in a match they should have won easily, given the difference in resources. Wales were depleted by injuries to Bellamy and Bale and started the match with two teenage fullbacks, Chris Gunter and Neil Eardley. Robinson went off injured in the first half and Ireland should have seized their chance. Overall it wasn't bad for an Ireland game, but the endless references to saving pride made me want to puke. I think pride went out the window a long time ago.
Steven Hunt came off the bench like a man possessed and added to his reputation as an impact sub. Because of 1 or 2 games, people are willing to box off his career. Let him start more in the next qualification campaign and we can properly judge his effectiveness. He starts every game for Reading, after all.
Don Givens, the U21 coach took charge of the match on Saturday. He has been in the job as long as I can remember, and I think the FAI should look at it's strategy. Many countries use the underage teams as a learning ground for potential future managers. Givens has no ambition for a top job and is happy in his role (why wouldn't he be - loads of cash - no results expected). It's time the FAI took manager development as seriously as player development. Staunton could, and should, have been asked to take over the U18's 2 years ago, so he could make his mistakes there.

In a game that was actually meaningful, Scotland lost 2-1 at home to Italy. It was cruel luck on the Scots, the Italians got a freekick that never was and Panucci scored the winner. A draw could have been enough, depending on Wednesday's Ukraine France game, but their hopes were over. I feel sorry for the Scots but I'm happy that Italy and France will be at the finals.
Credit must be given to Walter Smith, and Alec McLeish. I have long felt that McLeish did a good job with Rangers, winning titles despite a lack of money compared to Celtic. After the game, he was non-committal on his future, and it could be a perfect time for a Premiership club to pick him up.

Over to Israel - I was hit by the inevitability of it all. Despite the conspiracy theories floating around in the run up to the game, that the Russian connection would influence things, Israelis in general are pro-England and they won the game in time added on. Amazingly, England only need a draw at home to Croatia to progress, and I think it will be one of the most undeserving qualifications in a long time. I'm glad they are through though, it creates a buzz around the competition, there are countless articles and TV programs which are widely optimistic and then it all goes down the pan.


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JJ said...

I watched all three games on saturday and was actually surprised that i saw some decent football. Ireland were very decent at times, but then it was against Wales and they still managed to draw. The other two games had a lot more riding on them and thus were decent to watch.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. I fucking hate israel.

JJ said...

In footballing terms of course... sensitive lads over there in regards to the whole 'hate israel' thing.

Anonymous said...

I thought Ireland played some good stuff on Saturday...I heard a (perhaps not too) surprising stat afterwards though...against teams that have previously qualified for a tournament, Ireland have won only 3 competitive games away from home, in FORTY years.
No, actually it's not a surprise.

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