Yet another drab night of Irish football under Giovanni Trapattoni. Last night an admittedly under-strength Irish side were beaten by Norway, in our own backyard, the New Lansdowne Road, 1-2. Ireland got off to a great start when one of our more enterprising and promising prospects, 23 year old Shane Long, scored from the penalty spot.
That was effectively the highlight of the night from an Irish point of view.
You could have switched off the television in the sixth minute, and you would have missed nothing in terms of enjoyable entertainment or progressive football from the Irish team. The sixth minute!
Norway played patiently, and frequently over ran Ireland’s wafer-thin, over matched midfield of Glenn Whelan and Keith Fahey, a midfield duo the Faroe Island would be embarrassed to put on the field of play.
As we predicted in yesterday’s piece on the match, Glenn Whelan was a ‘joy’ to watch. One of Trapattoni’s most trusted and favoured players, the only way is back for Whelan. Time and time again he took the ball, controlled it, turned and passed backwards. Even with Ireland chasing the game late, Whelan’s favoured pass was of the backwards variety. You can make a case for the value of maintaining possession and playing controlled football, but every so often, you have to hit the ball forwards!! It helps greatly in any attempt to score a goal and further your chance of winning soccer games. Forward movement is a good thing, Glenn!
Take a look at this chart showing all passes Glenn Whelan made or attempted to make in his most recent noteworthy Premiership game (he has played but a handful of meaningful minutes in the premiership this season). Have a look at the painful number of passes that are either side to side or backwards
15 successful passes, 10 of those are side-to-side or backwards. I am no physicist, but you are not going to generate much forward play, going backwards.
And yet every time Ireland play we are forced to suffer through another 90 minutes of turgid midfield play from Whelan, a man who is afraid to go forwards.
Of course, it is unfair to blame all this stagnant mess on one man, and it should be noted that Whelan is an honourable, hard working player who gives his all.
The ‘style’ comes from the top.
The Trapattoni apologists, and there are a shocking number of them, often cite the effectiveness of his particularly negative brand of football. It may not be pretty, but it gets results, they say. Well, Ireland have now played at the New Lansdowne Road four times, and on three of those occasions, we have been beaten. Just the one win, and it was against the mighty Andorra.
Trapattoni mused, post match "I am a little disappointed with the result but I saw some important positives.’’ Well, with all due respect to the Italian manager, he must have been watching a different match, as there was almost nothing positive, progressive or forward thinking about the pathetic Irish display last night. The proof was on the park and in the silenced, muted stands. With each backwards pass from a talent-challenged Irish midfield, the noise in the stadium lowered further, to the point where you could hear individual fans shout out occasional displeasure at what was on display in front of them.
And so we beat on, under Trapattoni. On a night when he had promised, pre-game, to give them a ‘run out’, the Italian left promising youngsters Seamus Coleman, Marc Wilson and Keith Treacy rooted firmly to the bench. The attacking prowess of Andy Reid and Anthony Stokes? Nowhere to be seen.
Well, that’s it for now. No more Irish games until Wales visit Dublin fourth in February.
Ask yourself, the style and manner in which they are playing football right now, under this manager, will you even miss them?