Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Auf Wiedersehen Pet - The Special One

An Smuigin is proud to deliver The Special One's latest take on The Irish Soccer Team, Stan, Basil Faulty and turning Andy O'Brien into Fabio Cannavaro!!

"Now I know how the French felt back in 1940 when after watching Germany crush Poland they waited for the inevitable invasion and defeat that would soon befall them. Now Steve Staunton faces the same fate.

How are our boys going to deal with the blitzkrieg tactics of aerial attacks from Klose with on rushing ground assaults from Ballack, Podolski ect? Last week the Dutch should have scored eight or nine and made us look like a pub team. Arjen Robben, the Dutch talisman told our media afterward not to blame Ireland for the 4-0 drubbing because our players are not really any good.

Listening to him, I was immediately outraged, where the hell does he get off panning our team what the hell has he achieved? Well he does play for the best club side in Britain and has played and scored at the last two major tournaments so perhaps he does know the standard that is required at this level.

Robben looks upon Ireland as a team in the same category as Cyprus, Latvia and Wales, teams where a one-nil defeat is a victory and where qualification is a dream rather than a goal. Now after Jack Charlton’s glory day’s and even our sojourn in Japan that is a sobering thought.

We are now seen as a poor football team, gone are the days of being a pain in the backside to play against under Charlton and McCarthy/Keane (Depending on your point of view). For me the question isn’t are we a bad team instead its why are we rubbish and what can we do to fix it.

First of all is it the FAI’s fault for appointing Stan? Since the defeats to Chile and Holland members of the media have been calling for Stan’s head. Now I’m not saying I was behind the decision to appoint a man who is the managerial equivalent of Theo Walcott but appointing the Walsall Reserve coach is the kind of thing we have grown used to from Basil Faulty or whoever runs the FAI. We were told we couldn’t get anyone else and that we’re not an attractive proposition for international coaches. Yet how did a bunch of championship journeymen attract Leo Beenhacker, a coach with vast experience at all levels of the game. Guss Hiddink is at Russia now, is Ireland not more attractive that Siberia? Even Terry Venebles was a better choice. Alas we now do with what we have because the simple fact is that Stan is going nowhere at least until the end of this campaign.

So what has Stan brought to the team? Courage, passion, work-rate and commitment were the key ingredients missing in the days of Brian Kerr and where the same things promised by Stan. We reminisced in nostalgic tales of Stan the driven leader while donning the Irish jersey. At least we knew his team would work their socks off and win or die trying, or so we thought.

To be honest I saw no desire or hunger against Holland and that is unacceptable. Some of the players may not have the talent of the Charlton era but on last weeks evidence they don’t have the work-rate either. We need to get right into the faces of opponents and hit them hard.

Often times to get a result you must spoil the other team’s flow, it may not be pretty but it wasn’t pretty in 1990 either. Stan is charged with the job, not of turning Andy O’Brien into Fabio Cannavaro but instead into Mick McCarthy. Who can forget Big Mick’s day out with Hagi, the Romanian wizard who McCarthy kicked up and down the pitch in World Cup 1990. Stan has to get Steven Reid and Graham Kavanagh to launch into Ballack and Klose.

Good footballing teams don’t like it and often can’t handle it, how else can you explain Blackburn, Bolton or Robbie Savage’s whole career. We let the Dutch play last week, when we should have kicked them. Getting strong and running our socks off is our only hope and the best thing is we should be able to do it easily. Slow the game down, break them up and hope duffer or Keane can create something or maybe a set piece will do the trick. It may not be pretty but we are not Brazil and it’s about time we realise that.

To that effect I suggest the following line-up. Given,Carr,Dunne,O’Brien,Kilbane,Finnan,Reid,O’Shea,Duff,Keane,Doyle.

I reckon there’s enough power and strength there to get right in their faces. Stephen Ireland could go in centre with Finnan going left back and Reid on the right, but Kilbane gives the kind of strength and running we are going to need. When we have the ball we’ve got enough quality to create chances and the main thing is the work-rate when we don’t.

So there’s my formula for success it’s simple and effective and all it requires is desire, something Stan must drill into them so rather than wait for the invasion lets attack them and see if Ballack and co fancy it."


daithi said...

Commentators are quick to recall Keane the Elder's tackle on Overmars at the opening of the 2001 qualification clash against the Dutch. In the context of a full-blooded, high-stakes competitive international, that's exactly what you want from your players.

On the other hand, it's a little . . . well . . . rude to do that in a meaningless friendly held 4 days before the start of the season. Landzaat's heavy challenge on Stephen Reid (which, by injuring the Irishman, kind of proves my point) was the only real proper challenge that remains on the mind. One would hope that the lacklustre challenges are more a function of the environment than a general malaise - surely they'll be tougher than that against the Germans.

Personally, I'd be far more worried about the state of the defence. Kilbane's enthusiastic and resilient, but to have a left back that makes you pine for Ian Harte's positioning really gets the alarm bells ringing. A friendly experiment that may be, but it can't possibly be used in an game of importance. John O'Shea looked about as comfortable at centre half as Alan Kernaghan used to. There was no coherence, no marking (Huntelaar's first goal, and the sitter Robben missed were disgraceful chances to give them). It would be nice if Dunne and Given improve that, but by now we won't know until it's too late, of course.

The Special One said...

Can't agree with you there dathi,
the idea should be to play in a friendly as you would attempt to in a competitve fixture. I realise that it rary works out that way but i for one would prefer being called "rude" than getting an absolute drubbing in our own back yard.
As for kilbane, yeah i know he is fairly useless but he will die on the ball and thats what we need. Plus occasionally he can rise above his own capabilities and put in a good performance like against the french last year.

The Special 01 said...

Quick comment outlining my disgust and outrage at the latest assault on the pitches of the premiership. Jeus Pedro Mendes nearly got killed last night and that is no exageration. Ban Ben Thatcher for ten games, and criminal prosecution. It was GBH. Michael Brown's attempted leg break on giggs is also worth punishing very strictly. Yes i advocate tough play but not this sort of vagrent thugery. Pedro get well soon , your lucky your neck isn't broken. Ben Thatcher you can just go back to whatever gutter you crawled out of, tramp!