Ireland are a well drilled, passionate and hard working side, however where we fall flat on our faces, is in terms of creativity. The defence, well marshaled by the likes of Shay Given and Richard ‘Honey Monster’ Dunne, is a good foundation, and this Irish team is no different from previous incarnations, it will run through a brick wall for the green jersey.
The problem is, Ireland under Giovanni Trapattoni have become an incredibly boring side to watch.
The style of play being coached by Trapattoni can only be described as negative, the ball travels back from midfield towards the relative safety of the back four more than it is shifted forward in any positive manner. The emphasis is ‘not to lose’ as opposed to going out to win. Trapattoni is maddeningly happy with a draw, more so than most it would seem.
Hence, we should not be too shocked to find that his team for tomorrow nights friendly against Norway, lacks any sort of creative spark or imagination. With a host of injury problems the chance was there for Trapattoni to bring back in from the cold Andy Reid, who is fit again after injury and scored a crucial game winning goal for Sheffield United on the weekend. How welcome would his passing skills have been on the Irish team, during any of the last few stagnant displays? Same for Anthony Stokes, the 22 year old Irish hit-man who is scoring goals for everyone but his country of birth.
While Reid’s omission can be debated to some extent, there is simply no excuse for leaving Stokes out. He has now scored 30 goals in less than 50 Scottish Premiere League games dating back to last season. He is playing and scoring every week for the best team in Scotland, Celtic, and has the skills to open up defenses at the highest levels.
What about Dublin's own Wes Hoolahan? He is bossing games and scoring goals for Norwich City. Hoolahan would seem to have no marks on his card other than the fact he is a creative, attacking player, a style Trapattoni seems to want nothing to do with.
This would have been the perfect opportunity for Reid, Stokes and Hoolahan.
Instead, we are going to be ‘treated’ to the same old tired, boring faces. Fahey and Whelan have to comprise one of the most underwhelming midfield partnerships in International footballing history. There is no doubting their sense of duty, however there is every question to be asked of their technical ability or flair. Watch Whelan play, and count the number of times he knocks the ball backwards as opposed to generating any kind of forward attacking momentum.
Let's be honest and call a spade a spade, he, and Ireland, are nothing short of painful to watch under Trapattoni. Tommorrow night, judging by the Italian’s team selection, is yet another lost opportunity to try something new and refreshing.
Same old, same old, it would appear.
Republic of Ireland: Given (c), Kelly, O'Shea, O'Dea, Cunningham, Lawrence, Fahey, Whelan, Duff, Long, Doyle