Ireland’s bid to fluke their way to another major tournament is on track after somehow claiming a victory in Kazakhstan on Friday night. Late goals from Robbie Keane and Kevin Doyle saw the Boys in Green claim a win they scarcely deserved.
It was monotonous and worryingly similar to what has been seen in the not so distant past. ‘Uninspiring’ is another word that’s been used, but that’s not quite accurate as it did inspire the #TrapOut hashtag to trend on Twitter during the game.
It speaks volumes that had Ireland not staged their remarkable late rally, few fans would have felt aggrieved with defeat. There was no injustice or bad fortune, just laboured football and the feeling the team is being shackled with a one dimensional game-plan. Ireland will never be a Brazil of the 1970s, but the players have greater technical ability than the manager seems to think.
James McClean is one of the more mercurial talents that Trapattoni can’t find a place for and he was moved to send an ill-advised tweet to vent his frustration. “Delighted as a fan we got the the win. Personal level #fuming #f****njoke #embarrassing” he tweeted before having a change of heart and deleting it.
Ireland struggled against a team 116 places below them
Despite beginning the journey that probably won’t end up in Brazil with a victory, Giovanni Trapattoni is under fierce pressure. Ireland were held at arms length by a team ranked 116 places below them and it’s not as if it was one of those days when the ball just wouldn’t go in. The manager’s selection and tactics once ago received criticism as probably not the best 11 available to Ireland spent the game hoofing long balls to no-one in particular.
The Italian responded with all the stubbornness mixed with condescension we’ve come to expect in the last couple of years.
“Our communication was poor tonight,” he explained, rather ignoring the hapless punts upfield, “We know this number six goes to the front at corners and set-pieces. We know this. But the players didn’t talk to each other. Communication.”
His blinkered attitude didn’t stop at thinking the Kazakhstan goal was Ireland’s biggest problem. He sees the unconvincing victory as being something the players can take heart from.
The victory is important. The players can return to believing in their mentality and strength, that they can do again what we did against teams like France and Italy. And the players on the bench showed tonight how important they can be — Trapattoni
For all the criticism, its results that matter to Trapattoni and ironically Ireland were trimmed to 9/4 (from 11/4) to qualify for the next World Cup. In a group featuring Germany and Sweden it’s hard to imagine how the Boys in Green riding their luck to the extent required to claim a place in the top two, but he has ways and means. You may not always agree with them, but they aren’t going to change. Sadly.