Saturday, 13 October 2012

Six of the worst……

Well, where do you start after that debacle? 33 years since I attended my first game and I’ve never walked out of Lansdowne, Dalymount, Tolka, the RDS or any away stadium as chastened and humiliated by a performance as that. Despite the injuries, retirements and gulf in class there is no excuse for the lack of fight shown by the bulk of the team last night.

I never expected anything other than a defeat last night but after leaving work early and meeting the usual home game crew and a few of the lads we go on the way trips with for some pre game refreshment that heady mix of Guinness and optimism took hold. By the time we got into the ground just in time for the anthems and a moving minutes applause for James Nolan, the lad who tragically lost his life in Poland, the talk was of possibly being able to hold on for a draw and of the fact that most of the critics had got the changes they were shouting for albeit off the back of a huge injury list coupled with the post Euro retirements. The team wasn’t that different than I’d have chosen with Wilson for Ward and Long for Cox with Walters moving out wide the only changes I’d have made. There was an argument for Clark instead of O’Dea at the back but it was never likely given that he’s only just been reintegrated into the squad and to be fair to O’Dea, he’d never left Ireland down before last nights game. Although I’d have started with Long the clamour for his inclusion by elements of the media was over the top for me, he has two league goals so far this season compared to Walters one and has been subbed or started on the bench in a number of games, this isn’t a player who’s been banging goals in week in week out. As it was, Walters was one of the only players to emerge with any credit last night and Long obviously let his frustration get the better of him and picked up a needless booking that may cost him game time later in the campaign.

Once the game kicked off I thought we started reasonably well for the first 20 minutes or so and even created a half chance that Andrews snatched at with his right foot when he should have hit it with his left. But the longer the game went on the more Germany started dominating possession and the denial of an absolute stonewall penalty when O’Shea was caught dawdling in the box and hauled down Reus seemed to spark them into upping the tempo further. Funny enough, when they didn’t get that decision I actually thought that maybe this might be one of those days when we get the rub of the green. After all, in one of our most famous victories against Holland in 2001 they absolutely battered us for the first half before we managed to get a foothold in the game. Could it happen again? Obviously not.

I don’t know if the sense of injustice that Reus felt for getting booked for diving when a red for O’Shea and a pen would have been a fairer outcome made him raise his game but he was unplayable the rest of the half and the relief we felt in getting that decision soon evaporated when McGeady lost him and he was quickest to react to a ricochet off Coleman’s knee before cracking the ball in off the crossbar. One down and my hope that we could make it to half time at only one down was forlorn as within seven minutes the same player slotted home his second. Game over.

The second half was like a ritual slaughter and a lesson is possession football. We just couldn’t get the ball off them and the odd occasion we did couldn’t keep it. The third soon followed when O’Dea was badly caught and Ozil got the penalty they should have had in the first half. Simple fact, whatever about Robbie Keane playing the MLS at the end of his career, for a player of O’Dea’s age it’s not a good enough standard to play in and hope to be up to speed at international level. Klose then finished neatly for the fourth and a poor clearance from O’Shea led to the fifth from Kross before the same player struck the final nail in the coffin and made it six with Ireland in total disarray. Keogh’s consolation at the death only served to dampen the cacophony of boos that seemed to be building as most of the remaining crowd were still ironically applauding the goal when the full time whistle went.

So where do we go from here. Trap doesn’t seem in any mood to go anywhere and the budget isn’t there for the FAI to pay him off. What are the alternatives? McCarthy carries baggage with a section of the support and looks to be heading for Bolton. Funny to see Dunphy cheerleading for his appointment last night given how vitriolic he was in calling for his head 10 years ago. Coyle may well be heading back to Burnley. Whatever about paying Trap off the FAI certainly don’t have the cash to buy out someone’s contract. And could another manager do much more with what are probably the poorest group of players we’ve had in a generation. Would the likes of Hoolahan or Clark have made any difference? And should we win on Tuesday we’ll have 6 points from 3 games which is the most anyone would have expected if we’re being honest. Austria being held by Kazakhstan last night out our win over there in a different light and means we’ve got 2 points in hand on them given their previous defeat to Germany. Although the fact that Sweden struggled and needed 2 late goals to beat the Faroes is a worry. Tuesday’s game in now a must win, lose or draw and Trap’s position becomes untenable. The players that people had been calling for let themselves down last night and need to step up. And the manager has to stop pushing square pegs into round holes. Win and 2nd place is still on despite the abysmal recent performances. Either way something has to change.