Euro qualifier action

The four home nations and the Republic of Ireland all see action today. So far it seems like a day for goal feasts. Northern Ireland were deservedly beaten 3-0 by Iceland. Scotland hammered the Faroe Islands 6-0. England stomped Andorra 5-0. Wales lost 2-1 to the Czech Republic and the RoI lost 1-0 to Germany.It was a return to the bad old days for Northern Ireland. During the McIlroy era, the defence had a habit of falling apart if the opposition scored in the first 20 minutes of a half, and history repeated itself when the Icelanders scored in the 13th minute and two more in the first half. Tony Capaldi, who dropped defensive clangers in the Finland game, carried on in the same form today. The Iceland attack quickly realised they had the beating of him and took full advantage down the left-hand side with the 3-0 scoreline at half-time almost a disappointment for them. In the second half, Northern Ireland put together a more attacking game but this had much to do with Iceland sitting back on their comfortable lead. Healy did hit the net but was disallowed because of a prior foul by Elliott. Just as poor as Capaldi was Quinn. There is little point of having a big man to control and hold up the ball and win it in the air if he singularly fails to do either nor seems to have heard of the concept of running. Playing long, high balls against a team whose average height is about 4 inches taller than your team seems pointless too although the water-logged pitch offers some excuse for not playing it on the floor. The only ray of hope was the hardworking midfield performances of Clingan, Gillespie, Elliott and Davis. Sanchez has his work cut out before the more daunting task of Spain on Wednesday. Capaldi and Quinn need some of this stuff.

  • Blackadder

    NI – very poor. I picked Iceland to win the game, but didnt expect it just as easy as this.

    NI attacked OK and made some chances, but the defence was terrible. The long ball game is too predictable and easily countered by half organised defences. No one picked up Gudjohnson (which is criminal given that his style of play of dropping off the front is no trade secret), and he exploited it well.

    Big improvement required on Wednesday or it will be a long night…….

  • Realist

    One thing about being a Northern Ireland fan is that it’s a life of a few highs and many more lows. Never seems to be anything in between.

    Today’s performance was shambolic.

  • Greenflag

    Quoted from the Deutsche Welle (Germann BBC equivalent?)

    “Ireland will show typical British values, and I expect them to fight for everything and make it very tough for us,” German manager Löw added.

    Swat Ireland aside ? This means War !

    Somebody needs to talk to that Low Ballack – typical British values indeed Hrrrrrmmph 🙁

    Germany start as favorites to win Group D and to swat aside Ireland but new manager Löw has been in the job just over six weeks — far from the perfect preparation — and the new coach faces a defensive crisis.

    A 3-0 friendly win over Sweden was a promising start for Löw but he expects a much tougher game against Ireland.

    “Ireland will show typical British values, and I expect them to fight for everything and make it very tough for us,” Löw added.

    The last time Ireland faced Germany was in June 2002 when they played out a 1-1 draw in the World Cup group stage. A similar result would no doubt delight Staunton.

    Our father who art in heaven etc etc etc . 🙁

  • I’m a scud. For the first time in my life I put Norn Iron on my Saturday accumulator. Never again.

  • Only 1-0?

    Germany will be very disappointed with this result.

  • Rory

    Mmmm. I wondered why the checkout guy at my local Iceland murmurred with contemptuous sympathy as I passed me fish fingers and frozen peas along the slidy ding-ding.

  • Keith M

    “Ireland will show typical British values…”

    I think if I was British I’d be be having a word with a good lawyer after the match.

  • Brendan, Belfast

    Funny how GAA points out that Fair Deal concentrates more on politics than sport when he comments on the GAA – then he rants on about the Neil Lennon issue in his post. Mmmmmmm

    funny too how the “best fans in Europe” booed their team off the pitch.

  • Fer fecks sake

    He has a point though Brendan. Surely FD will post here tomorrow evening about the ups and downs of the Cork/Killkenny match? I won’t hold my breath…..

  • Keith M

    “funny too how the “best fans in Europe” booed their team off the pitch.”

    They only got an award, they weren’t instantly turned into saints. That was the worst performance by an Irish international side since since….well since RoI were hammered 4-0 by Holland a few weeks ago, actually.

    All in all a miserable day for Irish football.

  • Brendan, Belfast

    He (GAA) has a point though Brendan

    Fine – but it is unfair to point the finger in one sentence for doing exactly what he does in thwe next! – if you follow.

  • Patrique

    “GAA” seems to show his true colours, with his slagging of our team today. Neil lennon was threatened by bigots, possibly a bit like “GAA”. They should have called the game off as a protest.

    However, like the rest of N.Ireland bar some GAA people, the scene is slowly changing at Windsor. N.Ireland fans now wear green and white colours, and the morons on the Kop are growing smaller and being discouraged. Linfield even have “anti-sectarian” demonstrations, asking the crowd to support ALL the players. Nice to see Linfield are more advanced than the Antrim GAA.

    Indeed it is not really the Antrim GAA. A small number of influential Bon Jovies managed to “take over” the Antrim GAA, mostly by intimidation. They still have influence, and can still intimidate, but the opposition is growing.

    N.Ireland are not a very good team. Talk of population is nonsense, otherwise Antrim and Dublin would win all the All Irelands, football and Hurling, and Kerry, like Andorra and N.Ireland, wouldn’t be allowed to compete.Neither would Kilkenny for that matter.

    And Neil Lennon is useless, in my considered opinion.

  • Harry

    ‘home nations’ my arse.

  • John East Belfast

    supporting norn iron will always be full of more lows than highs – back to reality.

    Sanchez can undoubtedly instill passion for the ocassion but some of his judgements today have to be seriously questioned.
    Starting James Quinn in lieu of Lafferty was 50/50 but i was shocked when I saw Quinn running on at the start of the second half when he was clearly unfit and ineffective.
    When he did bring Lafferty on he put him on the Right Wing and moved Gillespie (who had been creating chances down the right) onto the left – only to reverse the two less than 10 minutes later when he saw it clearly wasnt working for either.
    Keeping Capaldi on as Left back for 80 minutes when he clearly couldnt cope in that position. Although I think Capaldi is not a bad player but I am frightened everytime I know he is playing left back.
    Playing the high and long ball against Icelandic giants with Quinn reaching few and Healey the smallest person on the pitch.
    Not having someone man mark Gudjohnson.
    He should have kept the ball on the ground and used the pace of Sproule?
    Where was Brunt ?

    I am afraid that £1m is safe.
    I am even more fearful for the Spain game if our defence can be split open like that.

  • dantheman

    I was seriously thinking of giving the north my shout today, especially after the award. But the massive “NO SURRENDER” during the anthem put pay to that. Then again I never thought I would support a team wearing red white and blue playing at windsor!!

    such is the problem with NI fans, a few friendly wins and the prod supremacist emerges in all of them. Then the real match starts and they are humped. Funny hearing one of the pundits before the match warn of complacency.

    Football for all right beside a giant union jack
    Best fans in europe shouting uvf slogans then booing off their 3rd rate team.

  • ahem

    Craigavon sent the Specials out,
    To shoot the people down,
    He thought the IRA were dead,
    In dear old Belfast town,
    But he got a rude awakening,
    With cannon and grenade,
    When he met the First Battalion,
    Of the Belfast Brigade.

    Glory, glory to old Ireland,
    Glory, glory to this island,
    Glory to the memory of the men
    Who fought and died,
    “No surrender” is the war cry of
    The Belfast Brigade.

    The soldiers came from Holywood,
    Equipped with English guns,
    There were men by the thousand,
    Ammunition by the ton,
    But when they got to Belfast,
    They were seriously delayed,
    By the fighting First Battalion
    Of the Belfast Brigade.

    We have no ammunition,
    Or no armoured tanks to show,
    But we’re ready to defend ourselves,
    No matter where we go,
    We’re out for our Republic,
    And to hell with your Free State,
    “No surrender” is the war cry
    Of the Belfast Brigade.

    Come all you gallant Irishmen,
    And join the IRA
    We’ll strike a blow for freedom,
    When it comes a certain day,
    You know your country’s history,
    And the sacrifice it made,
    Come join the First Battalion
    Of the Belfast Brigade.

  • Realist

    “booing off their third rate team”

    It would never happen in Dublin.

    http://foot.ie/forums/showthread.php?t=38592

    It’s unique to Northern Ireland fans.

  • Realist

    “such is the problem with NI fans, a few friendly wins and the prod supremacist emerges in all of them”

    I blame that well known “Prod”, Lawrie Sanchez.

  • John East Belfast

    dantheman

    “But the massive “NO SURRENDER” during the anthem put pay to that.”

    I wish they (the Kop minority) wouldnt and indeed I see no need for GSTQ at all but that shout is now one of those things that have become quintessentially working class northern irish supporter.
    I notice the band try to crescendo up at that point to drown it out.
    Anyhow see it as harmless bit of fun which is the mood within which it is shouted.
    Indeed I notice the England fans now shout it as well which they learned from us during the world cup qualifiers.

    In other words lighten up about it.

    T”hen again I never thought I would support a team wearing red white and blue playing at windsor!!”

    Your support for Iceland says it all.

    “such is the problem with NI fans, a few friendly wins and the prod supremacist emerges in all of them”

    what are you talking about ?
    I have never known a Prod who saw himself as a supremecist.
    We were never brought up like that – yes we had problems with Catholics but it was never one of anything other than an enemy of equals.
    That kind of language is based on your own hang ups that you would do us all a favour if you sought some kind of counselling

    “Football for all right beside a giant union jack”

    The colours being Green, White and Blue though – most of the NI fan base are from the unionist community – national football has a lot to do with nationality. Therefore some (probably less than a 100) would be seen sporting the Union flag.
    NI is a country of mixed loyalaties and without its own agreed version then you are going to see one side or the other – If one section of the community chooses to opt out (because as I have said before here they dont support the Six Counties in ANY endeavour other than Gaelic Sports) then the other side will fill the vacuum.
    ie its you own fault that you have chosen to opt out.

    Nationalists would be better working towards an agreed NI (until they achieve -if ever – their UI dream) and agreeing on issues such as flags and anthems.
    We could then use our new flag and new anthem in our new stadium to support NI soccer. Other national flags of these islands would be confiscated at the turnstiles.

    However if you are not prepared to engage in such an exercise then you have lost your right to whinge about it.

    “Best fans in europe shouting uvf slogans”

    when ? I was there and I didnt hear any UVF slogans ? – did you hear it on tv ?
    If not stop telling lies.

    ” booed their team off the pitch.”

    Some fans expressed their frustration at the end of the game that way – I didnt and nor did the majority but such an action is hardly exclusive to NI fans under such circumstances.

    Everyone will be back on Wednesday night in full voice again.

  • If I’d got tickets for yesterday’s match I probably would have booed too. Piss poor performance, especially in the first half. Losing 3-0 to Iceland isn’t an acceptable start to a qualifying campaign, and there were too many mistakes that would have looked silly in a schoolboys match. I don’t see what’s wrong with expressing disapporval with that.

  • dantheman

    “Anyhow see it as harmless bit of fun”

    JEB
    Says it all. Football for all my arse. How silly that award looks now.

  • Anna Dale

    “such is the problem with NI fans, a few friendly wins and the prod supremacist emerges in all of them.”

    I thought a helluva lot more of you than this Dantheman kind of crap you’ve come out with.

    In all of them, really?
    So we’re all bigots in your humble opinion?
    A “Yes” or “No” will suffice.

    “Best fans in europe shouting uvf slogans then booing off their 3rd rate team.”

    Put up or shut up Dantheman on this serious allegation. What slogans and what time did you hear them?

    If they did happen I hope someone slugged the t***s that did them, oops but we are all prod supremacists according to you aren’t we?
    If they didn’t, then quite obviously you have joined Fearon’s sad and motley crew of antiGAWA liars/fantasists. Pity.

  • John East Belfast

    dantheman

    I am afraid your attitude to NI football team is like you attitude to my post – ie just dip in and and select the bit you dont like to support your pre defined position without giving it wider consideration.

    surely you can do better than that ?

    eg can you support your accusation of NI fans shouting UVF slogans ?

    Have you anything to say about “sport for all” actually meaning that “all” have a role to play to make it so rather than shouting from the sidelines and leaving a vacuum for others to fill ?

    In the aftermath of the England game did you meet any Protestant supremacists who made you feel inferior ?

    Surely Slugger is not about people shouting slogans from behind their barricades ?

  • Patrique

    I note a few Free Staters want one of the “Billy Boys” as their manager, namely Martin O’Neill.

    Niall Lennon, possibly a brother of Neil’s, says it is ok to threathen him because he is useless. I don’t think anyone sane could agree with that.

  • Ziznivy

    It’s a while since I’ve left an international so downhearted. Possibly when we were beaten by Armenia at home. A woeful performance with some of the most inept defending I’ve seen from Northern Ireland. I only hope that a few changes can enable us to pick things up for Wednesday night.

  • jfd

    Just watched the NI game after a Belfast mate of mine compared it to our debacle against the Netherlands.

    Was genuinely shocked after NI’s solid performances in recent months.

    massive step backwards. perhaps a case of running before you can walk.

  • smcgiff

    Not the best night for Irish Soccer.

    The second goal NI conceded has to be the worst goal I’ve ever seen conceded in any game I’ve ever watched on tv. Drag out all the clichés, it was schoolboy stuff.

    It’s been said by many, but NI were really poor. They improved in the second half, but that’s small comfort. At that stage the Icelanders were contemplating what drink to have on the way home in the plane.

    I was hoping we’d get farther into NI’s campaign before the supporters would have to take solace in the ‘We’re not Brazil, we’re Northern Ireland’ cry, but it can’t be far away considering the imminent arrival of the Spanish.

    There was a great swathe of green flags amongst the fans, which looked great. However, (can’t resist) the Icelanders must have been greatly heartened to see so many of their supporters in amongst the Northern Irish fans! 😉

  • vic

    The ‘no surrender’ boys were out in force on Saturday, difficult to see how a few can be blamed for the sectarian chanting, when it was clearly large sections of the crowd.

    Many supporters seem happy for Windsor park to remain a cold house.

  • Ziznivy

    What sectarian chants did you hear vic?

  • dantheman

    I found the similarities between the Icelandic flag and the butchers apron uncanny. Perhaps Gudjohnsen and co thought that it was the last night of the proms in windsor as they strolled about the pitch wondering what the point of it all was??

  • smcgiff

    Dan,

    ‘Perhaps Gudjohnsen and co thought that it was the last night of the proms in windsor’

    Whatever about, ‘No surrender’ which some take offence at, which I can just about understand, there were very few union flags at the match. There were so few they were conspicuous by their small numbers.

    I only saw two. And in fairness, if you went to a Brazil Vs France game you could possibly see the odd union or Irish flag for that matter.

    Nope – Credit where credit is due…

  • dantheman

    smcg

    There were a lot lees than there used to be, and credit is due for that, but one UJ is one too many. It is not the UK team which plays at Windsor Park.

  • Realist

    “It is not the UK team which plays at Windsor Park”

    Dan,

    Is it a team which constitutes part of the United Kingdom which plays at Windsor Park.

    The Union flag does not fly in any official capacity at International matches.

    “but one UJ is one too many”

    But you’re not a Northern Ireland fan, are you?

    If some Northern Ireland fans feel that they want to display a Union flag, that’s their perogative. It happens to be their national flag.

    I’d personally prefer if they didn’t, but ain’t going to get into a hissy fit over it.

    The more Northern Ireland detractors dictate what should and should not happen at Northern Ireland matches, the more Union flags will appear – and the louder the chants of “No Surrender” will be.

    It’s Northern Ireland fans working for change who have to deal with that consequence.

  • Surrealist

    That was a bad hammering our boys got off Iceland.

    Christ knows what’ll happen when we play Tescos next week?

  • John East Belfast

    Dantheman

    “I found the similarities between the Icelandic flag and the butchers apron uncanny”

    “but one UJ is one too many. It is not the UK team which plays at Windsor Park.”

    I tried to comprehensively to address your concerns in my 1.08 and 2.05 posts yesterday but you were unable or unwilling to discuss them.

    Then here you are today back with silly sound bites but no substance.

    If ever “Put Up or Shut Up” was more relevant

  • Anna Dale

    “Best fans in europe shouting uvf slogans then booing off their 3rd rate team.”

    You said the above yesterday Dantheman.

    You were pulled up about it.
    24 hours later you’ve still offered no proof.
    Afraid to “debate” the issue or what?

  • Realist

    “Christ knows what’ll happen when we play Tescos next week?”

    That was funny the first time I heard it – bit tired after a couple of hundred times tho.

    PS: I’ll be backing Tescos HT/FT.

  • Surrealist

    Realist,

    In terms of players, NI only appear to me to have one very good player in Davis although you may take a different view. It’s natural that expectations were heightened after the fine win against England but was the Iceland game a reality check?
    The Republic are supposed to have four top class players in Dunne, Given, Keane and Duff yet to me their chances of qualifying are remote. It’s OK saying Keane and Duff are world class but it’s a long time since either have done anything of note in a green jersey.
    Bleak times ahead for both teams, I fear.
    Have to say that I think McClaren is doing a good job as English manager in terms of clearing out deadwood like Beckham and building a decent team spirit. I reckon England could be a serious bet to win the whole shebang.

  • Realist

    Surrealist,

    “In terms of players, NI only appear to me to have one very good player in Davis although you may take a different view.”

    Young Davis has enormous potential. I also rate Clinghan and Lafferty to be very good players in a couple of years.

    We’ll never have a team of very good players. We expect and demand a team of very good battlers – we didnt get that on Saturday.

    “It’s natural that expectations were heightened after the fine win against England but was the Iceland game a reality check?”

    In four out of our last six competitive games at home, we have conceded three goals – Poland, Austria, Wales (after England) and now Iceland.

    That’s just not good enough.

    England, whilst a deserved victory on the night, was a freak result.

    Finland away in the recent friendly had raised my hopes a little – certainly to the degree whereby I thought we would beat Iceland.

    Finland go away to Poland on Saturday and beat their hosts 3-1 – crazy.

    “The Republic are supposed to have four top class players in Dunne, Given, Keane and Duff yet to me their chances of qualifying are remote. It’s OK saying Keane and Duff are world class but it’s a long time since either have done anything of note in a green jersey”

    I think the ROI are going to find things very tough in the immediate future. I was very surprised at the appointment of a “rookie” in Steve Staunton.

    Duff has been off the boil for a while – he was disappointing at Chelsea last year.

    “Have to say that I think McClaren is doing a good job as English manager in terms of clearing out deadwood like Beckham and building a decent team spirit”

    Time will tell. I think I could get England safely through their Euro group 🙂

    “I reckon England could be a serious bet to win the whole shebang”

    Please God, no!

    Perish the thought, right now.

  • Patrique

    One union flag is too much especially as we in the GAA are making all sorts of efforts to attract everyone. Sometimes I wonder who the bigots are nowadays.

    Our wee team, N.Ireland, has one good player, England has one world class player, Rooney, that’s how we were able to beat them. Any continental team, including Andorra, has more natural skill than British/Irish players.That’s why we struggle against them.

    As for the Republic, Duff is potentially world class, that’s it. Given is a good keeper, Keane is a fair player. Richard, our beloved “honey-monster” performs wonders week in, week out, for my team, Man City, but no-one could describe him as world class. Take a look at Cannevarro.

  • norman

    Great reaction to the Irish support in Germany.

    12,000 travelling fans and one arrest, pretty impressive.

    http://breakingnews.iol.ie/sport/story.asp?j=194274256&p=y94z7496z&t=soccer

  • Patrique

    “One union flag is too much especially as we in the GAA are making all sorts of efforts to attract everyone. Sometimes I wonder who the ###### are nowadays.”

    Is this supposed to be ironic Patrique? :-/ I could have sworn the tricolour was flown at every GAA match. Although of course that is expressing a legitimate national aspiration whereas the Union Flag is flown to intimidate nationalists.

  • Realist

    Nothing wrong with a bit of “Brit Bashing” by the masses of craicsters in Germany.

    Silly me thought they wanted to be “united” with the British people of Northern Ireland.

    Wonder what the “Brit” born players on the team, and Sir Bobby make of it?

  • Ziznivy

    The last comment attributed to Patrique was mine. I’ve no idea why his name appeared.

  • Democratic

    With respect Ziznivy – If I were you I wouldn’t be too quick to admit responsibilty for a comment like “I could have sworn the tricolour was flown at every GAA match. Although of course that is expressing a legitimate national aspiration whereas the Union Flag is flown to intimidate nationalists” – Double standards anyone?
    You couldn’t make it up!!

  • Ziznivy

    I was being sarcastic.

  • Democratic

    “Sarcastic”: (fans through “S” in mental dictionary) – Nope – You’ll have to help me out here Ziznivy – What does that mean?

    Seriously though apologies for the misunderstanding!

  • Globetrotter

    I have just got tickets for myself and my two kids for the Spain match tomorrow night. This will be the first NI match I have attended in about six or seven years. Armenia if my memory serves me correctly.
    I will be extremely interested to test this new, friendly atmosphere and check whether or not it is one I would like my kids to be part of.
    Having experienced life in the full “Billy Boys” days, I remain to be convinced, but I’m willing to be pleasantly surprised.

  • kensei

    “Although of course that is expressing a legitimate national aspiration whereas the Union Flag is flown to intimidate nationalists.”

    Which would be fine if NI was a Unionist team.

    You keep telling us you’re not, though.

  • Ziznivy

    I don’t particularly like to see Union Flags displayed at Northern Ireland matches. We are playing as a seperate country and not competing in a UK team. I will not have GAA held up as a paragon of inclusivity though. That was what my post was referring to. Perhaps you didn’t read Patrique’s comment?

  • Realist

    I hope you enjoy the game and the occassion Globetrotter.

    You’ll hear some chant “No Surrender” in total disrespect of our National Anthem.

    You’ll hear “Stand Up For The Ulstermen” and “Ulster Til I Die”

    You might hear a few individuals make a sectarian comment.

    You might even hear others telling them to “shut to fcuk up”.

    You’ll see a few Union Flags.

    You’ll see quite a few Northern Ireland flags.

    You’ll see loads of green and white.

    And you’ll probably see a heavy defeat for Northern Ireland – a team represented by players from across the political and religious divide.

  • kensei

    Fantastic sales pitch, there.

  • Realist

    Just telling it as it is kensei.

    Do you think this Irishman and his family might have felt a tad intimidated had we of strayed in Stuttgart town city on Saturday afternoon?

  • pete

    “one UJ is one too many”

    That’s like saying that the irish flag shouldn’t be flown at ireland matches. Northern Ireland is part of the UK, like it or not… just check the map if you don’t believe it.

  • Realist

    Globetrotter,

    Be sure to get there early – security is going to be a bit tighter than usual. A few issues with alcohol being smuggled into the ground on Saturday unfortunately.

    You’ll get to see UEFA presenting our ” Best Fans In Europe” award too. 🙂

  • kensei

    “Do you think this Irishman and his family might have felt a tad intimidated had we of strayed in Stuttgart town city on Saturday afternoon?”

    Probably, but then again you wouldn’t be wearing your Irish hat, and I still doubt you’d have got a particularly hostile reaction if you dandered around plastere din the Union Jack.

    We do need to clamp down on it anyway, but then again it’s not our fault everyone hates you……..

  • Realist

    “but then again it’s not our fault everyone hates you……..”

    The words of a, so called, United Irelander.

    Deary me. Mask slipping.

    And he expects me to support a “united” Ireland team!

  • kensei

    “The words of a, so called, United Irelander.

    Deary me. Mask slipping.

    And he expects me to support a “united” Ireland team! ”

    Oh get a grip, it’s just a wee joke at the fact the “Brits” have a long list of enemies, though it is more directed towards England in football.

    And if you had a United Ireland team, absolutely no one would hate you.

  • Realist

    kensei,

    “it’s just a wee joke”

    Oh, righty ho then.

    Whenever folk sing “We hate The IRA”, it’s only a wee joke too.

    “And if you had a United Ireland team, absolutely no one would hate you”

    Ahhh, isn’t that sweet. Nothing beats unconditional love. 🙂

    “We do need to clamp down on it anyway”

    Aye – it seems you’ve a bit of work to do.

    Why not get on with that instead of constantly berating Northern Ireland fans eh?

    We’ll get on with our work too.

    PS: I’m still waiting on your history lesson about “Partitionist FA”.

  • Patrique

    Satire died when they gave Henry Kissinger the Nobel Peace Prize.

  • give it a rest

    Something tells me that Realist and Kensei thrive on this mutual and tedious antipathy towards opposing fans rather than concentrating on the respective teams that they profess to support.

    Their boring and puerile exchanges suggest that they spend more time trying to undermine the reputation of the other team’s supporters as borne out by Realist using the arrest of one Irish fan from a travelling support of 12,000 to denounce the irish support en masse as Nazi sympathers.

    Equally Kensei should accept that the NI support have got rid of a vast number of the lunatic fringe.I know and like many NI fans all of whom are decent and non-sectarian and who have been to the fore in improving the reputation of the fans. NI fans richly deserve tomorrow’s night’s award.
    Personally I think that both sets of supporters deserve better than the players currently representing them out on the pitch.

  • harpo

    The results from the weekend Euro 2008 qualifying football results have raised once again the big question of whether or not there should be a pre-qualifying round, to let all the minnows play and eliminate most of each other before the big boys start playing.

    I say this should happen, for several reasons:

    1. It would eliminate all of these high score games between the minnows and bigger boys. Under the present set-up even Scotland get to win 6-0. These games are essentially meaningless, and really only have the benefit of helping provide goal differences to act as a tie-breaker to sort out those who end up close to eventual qualifying.

    2. If say 2 minnows were removed from each group in the UEFA qualifying it would mean 4 fewer games for each of the big boys. This would give players from the big countries the benefit of not having to play international qualifying games as early each season as they do. There are always complaints about top players having to play too many games. Well here’s a way to cut a few games from the schedule, especially early in the season.

    3. With fewer competitive qualifying games, the big countries could use say 2 of the saved games to seek friendly matches against non-European countries. Most teams need more practice against countries from outside Europe, to see how they match up against different styles. What they don’t need is having to play the likes of Andorra and the Faroe Isles just for the sake of it.

    Here’s the harpo proposal:

    There are 52 teams in Europe at present, and UEFA needs to weed that down to usually 14 or 15 teams who have to qualify for a tournament. Let’s say it’s 14 out of the 52, as it is for Euro 2008. There are 2 hosts, so that’s only 50 countries that have to play in qualifiers.

    The current set-up is 6 groups of 7 and 1 group of 8. This should be changed to 7 groups of 5 in the main qualifying tournament. So let’s make it 4 teams who go straight into each of the 7 groups, plus 1 minnow into each group from the pre-qualifying round.

    Thus 28 teams go straight into the main qualifying. The other 22 teams go into the pre-qualifying round. Those 22 teams play down on some basis – knockout or group format – to provide the 7 minnows that go into the groups in the main qualifying draw.

    Results:

    The big boys only play 8 instead of 12 qualifying games (assuming an original 7 team group), and there will be only 1 minnow in each of the main qualifying groups.

    Unfair to the minnows? I don’t think so, since the best of them will make it into the main qualifying round anyway.

    A form of this system is already being used at the UEFA U-21 level. Northern Ireland had to play in the pre-qualifying round of that tournament, and actually made it through.

    What would happen to NI if my system was instituted at the full international level? Who knows given their usual recent form. Some may say it would be unfair if they were upset by some smaller minnow, but if they couldn’t beat someone like an Andorra in pre-qualifying, who could argue that they deserved to make it into the main qualifying round?

    NI are a minnow at present and it might just take such a process to make them improve to the point where they can be consistent enough to easily dispose of the smaller minnows.

  • harpo

    ‘Any continental team, including Andorra, has more natural skill than British/Irish players.That’s why we struggle against them.’

    Patrique:

    Nonsense.

    This assumption that just because you are born on the continent means that you have more natural (as opposed to learned) skill is the oldest of old football myths.

    Has any Andorra player ever had the natural skill of a George Best?

    The reason that NI is currently struggling is that NI have few decent, never mind good, great or world class players.

    You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

    The current situation is that gone are the days of having a Danny Blanchflower in the team – ie one of the game’s greats. Or even a squad of decent players as they had in the 80s.

    The problem is that many NI fans retain memories of those days – qualifying for World Cups – and expect exactly the same from what is currently a mediocre squad. That isn’t realistic for a small place like NI. It’s only going to be once every couple of generations that the luck of a few births produces a couple of good players or a lot of decent ones at the same time.

    I mean be realistic – look down the NI squad list. How does anyone expect them to compete with the big boys on a regular basis? On a man for man basis they are a 5th rate squad, and that’s why they are a 5th seed in Europe. How many players do the have in the EPL or any of the other top leagues? Four isn’t it?

    You can see that they are mediocre by the results they produce. Once in a while they play out of their skins and beat England at home, or draw with Portugal at home, yet can within a year lose 3-0 to Iceland at home too. The spectacular successes come because of pride.

    They are a typical mediocre team. They have no consistency. They can give the big boys a good game, but then keep on coming a cropper against teams that they think they are better than – Iceland, Canada, Malta, Armenia.

    The truth is that NI aren’t that good a team, and certainly no better then those teams listed. That’s why NI has been wallowing in the 70 to 120 range in the FIFA rankings for the last few years. NI fans may think that NI are a top 40 team (or whatever it is that they do think) but at present never mind Brazil, NI aren’t even a Ghana (number 25) or a Guatemala (number 50).

    I know that much of football depends on eternal hope, but that’s all NI fans have at present. They are a 5th seed in Europe, and all that that means in terms of qualifying is that NI are expected to come 5th in a group of 7 or 8. Coming 3rd would be great success, fourth decent success, and lower than 5th a disaster. Given Saturday’s result NI is looking at a disaster.

    But NI fans will look ahead to Spain with the same old eternal hope that they are in that league and can beat Spain. Maybe they will, but if they do it won’t be on talent level – it will yet another spectacular performance from players who do much better than they should.

  • kensei

    “Oh, righty ho then.”

    Get a sense of humour transplant.

    “Whenever folk sing “We hate The IRA”, it’s only a wee joke too.”

    Not quite the same.

    “Why not get on with that instead of constantly berating Northern Ireland fans eh?”

    Because they keep telling us how great they are, and we still have nowhere like the same problems. Sadly I fear it will take more than having a pop at the Brits by away fans to actually do something.

    “PS: I’m still waiting on your history lesson about “Partitionist FA”.”

    Unfortunately, I have a life and limited time, I will get round to it.

    “Something tells me that Realist and Kensei thrive on this mutual and tedious antipathy towards opposing fans rather than concentrating on the respective teams that they profess to support.”

    Of course. This is football. I don’t actually consider NI much when I don’t have other fans to wind up though.

    “Equally Kensei should accept that the NI support have got rid of a vast number of the lunatic fringe.I know and like many NI fans all of whom are decent and non-sectarian and who have been to the fore in improving the reputation of the fans. NI fans richly deserve tomorrow’s night’s award.
    Personally I think that both sets of supporters deserve better than the players currently representing them out on the pitch.”

    I fully agree that NI has done a lot of work. That doesn’t change the reality of more needing done, and it needing to prove it over a longer timescale.

  • Patrique

    George Best, Peter Doherty, Blanchflower,Tully, McAlinden, Jimmy McIlroy, et al all came along before Britain/Ireland was given over to coaching kids, which means defenders are told “get rid of it” and forwards are told to defend. Social change means there is little street football, which also affects Scotland, as we no longer have Willie Hendersons, Jimmy Johnstons, Charlie Cookes, Slim Jim and a host of others.

    England has one great player, Rooney, ande a host of “runners” like Gerrard. But we all know the Ethiopians are the best runners. England used to have Le Tissier, Hudson, Worthington, Hoddle, Currie, Osgood et al. Mind you, they rarely picked any of them, as “footballers” are frowned upon in England. Let’s face it, Ronaldinho wouldn’t get on a premiership team because the crowd would never give over because he doesn’t tackle back, and defend.

    It is a different culture. I like to watch people who can do things I can’t. Six months training and I would be better than Lampard and Gerrard and that crowd. But Rooney has a talent, even if he is a wing nut.

  • ernegreen

    I was at the Northern Ireland game on Saturday, i haven’t been to a game for several years and was shocked at the loutish behaviour before and during the game.I passed a large crowd of fans at the top of Tate’s Avenue who were singing ‘the billy boys’ and other sectarian tunes, many of these fans were very drunk and were abusing passing motorists.Many fans were openly drinking from glass drink bottles inside the ground (eventhough they are banned) and i honestly found the whole experience quite volitile and uncomfortable.

    While reading through a thread on the OWC site i noticed the following comment and just thought it summed up my experience of the game last saturday, bad enough getting beat 3-0 without all this sh*t.

    “A sickening day all round. All the good work destroyed in a matter of minutes. Best fans in Europe? Next person we say that to will say “you’re having a laugh.”

    “Cries of “no surrender,” bigots mouthing off all around with no actions from the stewards, druken louts everywhere, ineffective stewarding, the half time music selection with one song well known for it’s sectarian use, the behaviour in Tates Avenue, the religious leaflets obviously authorised by the IFA etc etc. Jim Rainey and Michael Boyd must be feeling sick, fed up and ready to give uptoday.”

  • Realist

    “Their boring and puerile exchanges suggest that they spend more time trying to undermine the reputation of the other team’s supporters as borne out by Realist using the arrest of one Irish fan from a travelling support of 12,000 to denounce the irish support en masse as Nazi sympathers”

    Give it a Rest,

    On the contrary, I highlighted the fact to demonstrate that a few rotten eggs does NOT mean that a whole fanbase, en masse, should be labelled.

    I would point out that I’ll be joined tonight at Windsor Park by an avid ROI fan who travelled to Germany at the weekend. I don’t believe him to be a “Nazi”.

    If you don’t like the debate, ignore it.

    ernegreen,

    Interesting that you find these issues openly debated on the OWC website.

    Did you notice any Northern Ireland fan, on the very lengthy thread of “gripes” about Saturday on OWC, condone what was highlighted?

    Is it fair to say they were very angry?

    Did you notice the posts identifying seat numbers of offenders to be forwarded to the IFA?

    Some of the issues highlighted will be improved upon this evening – noteably the issue of drunkeness and alcohol being brought into the ground.

    Stewarding is a major issue inside the stadium that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later. Put simply, they are not doing their job effectively.

    Matters away from Windsor Park are the concern of the PSNI.

    Would you not agree that the atmosphere in the ground on Saturday was a vast improvement overall that what you experienced “several years” ago?

    Other than the bastardisation of our National Anthem by some, did you hear any sectarian chanting inside the ground – eg, the aforementioned “Billy Boys”?

  • Realist

    kensei,

    “Get a sense of humour transplant”

    I enjoy a very good sense of humour, thanks.

    “Not quite the same”

    You’d have no problems with chants of “Stand Up If You Hate The Provos” then?

    “Because they keep telling us how great they are”

    UEFA?

    “Unfortunately, I have a life and limited time, I will get round to it”

    I’ll be waiting.

    “I fully agree that NI has done a lot of work”

    Good man – that’s stating the obvious.

    “That doesn’t change the reality of more needing done”

    Absolutely correct. “Work In Progress”.

    “and it needing to prove it over a longer timescale”

    “Prove” to who exactly?

  • kensei

    ““Prove” to who exactly?”

    Oh, I dunno, all the people you offended while you were issuing death threats? Not everyone would buy it in a short space of time.

  • Realist

    kensei,

    “Oh, I dunno, all the people you offended while you were issuing death threats? Not everyone would buy it in a short space of time.”

    That’s out of order.

    I have never issued a death threat to anyone. I have never abused any Northern Ireland player in my life.

    I utterly and unequivocally condemn such things.

    Whatsmore, do you know the identity of the person(s) who issued a death threat to one of our players?

    If you do, can I suggest you forward the information to the PSNI.

    If not, I would suggest you cease making assertions.

    Northern Ireland fans are not in the busines of “proving” anything to anyone.

  • Realist

    ernegreen,

    You might be interested in this post by an ROI supporter in Germany on Saturday, which appeared on foot.ie

    “There’s definitely been a change in the general make up in the contingent of Irish support at away games over the last few years, particularly at the ‘popular venues’ Paris, Amsterdam and last weekend in Stuttgart.

    IMO, quite worryingly, there appears to be an increase in the ‘yob’ element at these venues. There’s nothing wrong with having a few beers, singing a few songs and generally having a good time, without resorting to the likes of what is mentioned above.( Pro PIRA chanting was being referred to) I’ve watched Ireland play abroad regularly for over 20 years and this is definitely a new phenomenon from which a lot of fans who have been following Ireland around for a few years don’t want to be associated with.

    One further example of it happened last Saturday afternoon on the Konigstrasse where there were several street performers entertaining kids, shoppers and several Irish and German football fans. One of these was playing music and had a bowl in front of them for the coins, when two lads in Irish shirts, each carrying one of these plastic jugs of beer, barged their way through the 8 or 10 people who were watching this guy play and for no apparent reason kicked the bowl with the few coins to the other side of the street before running away towards the Stademitte station area. Pathetic and a total embarassment to themselves and anyone else in a green shirt”

    It seems that while some try to clean up their act, things are “getting worse” elsewhere.

  • Globetrotter

    Thanks Realist.

    At £35 a ticket it had better be a bloody good experience!!

  • Realist

    Globetrotter,

    “At £35 a ticket it had better be a bloody good experience!!”

    Let’s hope so. I sincerely hope you enjoy it, and next time maybe purchase a block booking.

    Here’s hoping for a decent performance.

  • kensei

    “That’s out of order.

    I have never issued a death threat to anyone. I have never abused any Northern Ireland player in my life.

    I utterly and unequivocally condemn such things.”

    The wonderful thing about “you” in English is taht it doubles as the plural.

    “Whatsmore, do you know the identity of the person(s) who issued a death threat to one of our players?

    If you do, can I suggest you forward the information to the PSNI.

    If not, I would suggest you cease making assertions.”

    What, he wasn’t an NI fan? In the cosmic sense, probably, but if you are suggesting it was some grand Republican conspiracy you are wired.

    “Northern Ireland fans are not in the busines of “proving” anything to anyone. ”

    Fair enough. They don’t complaining when you are greeting with a healthy scepticism on the changes made.

  • Realist

    kensei,

    “The wonderful thing about “you” in English is taht it doubles as the plural”

    Who issued the death threat?

    “What, he wasn’t an NI fan?”

    I don’t know – do you?

    “but if you are suggesting it was some grand Republican conspiracy you are wired”

    I’m not suggesting anything. I don’t know who it was – do you?

    Did you watch the programme about the Leeds Service Crew last night – jeezus, they’re a scary bunch of fellas.

    Ever come across them on your travels?

  • kensei

    “I’m not suggesting anything. I don’t know who it was – do you?”

    Spurious point. Even if (s)he was a Congo fan, the death threat is linked with the NI team, it’s fans, and other unacceptable behaviour at the ground at the time. Whther that tallies with reality is largely irrelevant to the point I was making.

    I would wager that given the make up of the support at the time, an NI “fan” would be high up of the list of suspects, though.

    “Did you watch the programme about the Leeds Service Crew last night – jeezus, they’re a scary bunch of fellas.

    Ever come across them on your travels? ”

    No and no. And Leeds did a hell of a lot to get rid of their hooligan problems. And whataboutery won’t get you off the hook, either.

  • Realist

    kensei,

    “Spurious point. Even if (s)he was a Congo fan, the death threat is linked with the NI team, it’s fans, and other unacceptable behaviour at the ground at the time. Whther that tallies with reality is largely irrelevant to the point I was making”

    The death threat was made to a Northern Ireland player by person(s) unknown.

    You choose to twist that into “I would wager that given the make up of the support at the time, an NI “fan” would be high up of the list of suspects, though”.

    Of couse, the player in question is not the only Northern Ireland player to have received a death threat. When those death threats eminate from elsewhere, allegedly the IRA, they tend to be forgotten by those like yourself.

    Do you assume that these threats were made by ROI supporters?

    http://www.theredcard.ie/news/2006/02/kerr-reveals-racists-targetted.html

    “No and no. And Leeds did a hell of a lot to get rid of their hooligan problems”

    What did they do?

    They still exist tho, don’t they?

    “And whataboutery won’t get you off the hook, either”

    I’m not on the hook.

    Merely exposing the rank hypocricy of people like you.

    Has the penny dropped yet?

  • kensei

    “The death threat was made to a Northern Ireland player by person(s) unknown.

    You choose to twist that into “I would wager that given the make up of the support at the time, an NI “fan” would be high up of the list of suspects, though”.”

    No, I am stating the fact that the commonly accepted view is that it was one of the nutters attending Windsor Park at the time, probably linked to loyalists. In this instance, perception is reality and that is why the IFA took action.

    I am merely stating that changing people’s opinion takes time.

    “Of couse, the player in question is not the only Northern Ireland player to have received a death threat. When those death threats eminate from elsewhere, allegedly the IRA, they tend to be forgotten by those like yourself.”

    I was 12 when the first IRA ceasefire was called. I don’t think I’m old enough to remember.

    “Do you assume that these threats were made by ROI supporters?”

    No, but then again, we didn’t see the disgraceful behaviour inside Windsor Park at ROI matches.

    “What did they do?”

    Similar sort of stuff that most First Divison clubs did in England. Anti-racism campaigns, bans, community outreach etc. TV and the disapperance of stands probably helped.

    “They still exist tho, don’t they?”

    I am sure a very, very small minority exists, but Leeds do not have the reputation that they once had, a family could attend the club and their only major problem is that they are shite.

    That took hard work and time.

    “I’m not on the hook.”

    Oh yes you are. Take responsibility for something for once.

    “Merely exposing the rank hypocricy of people like you.

    Has the penny dropped yet?”

    I am not hypocritical. Happy to condemn stupid fuckers wherever they are.

  • Realist

    kensei,

    “No, I am stating the fact that the commonly accepted view is that it was one of the nutters attending Windsor Park at the time, probably linked to loyalists”

    It may be a “commonly accepted view”, but there is no factual evidence to back the assertion up.

    “In this instance, perception is reality and
    that is why the IFA took action”

    The IFA were already taking action prior to the death threat.

    What exactly do you expect the IFA to do about a nutter unknown with 20p making a phonecall from a public phonebox?

    “I was 12 when the first IRA ceasefire was called. I don’t think I’m old enough to remember.”

    I was I lot older, and I do remember.

    “No, but then again, we didn’t see the disgraceful behaviour inside Windsor Park at ROI matches”

    Oh, right. So shall we base on discussions on tenious linkage then, when it’s suits your agenda?

    “Similar sort of stuff that most First Divison clubs did in England. Anti-racism campaigns, bans, community outreach etc.”

    And the IFA have done nothing of this nature?

    “I am sure a very, very small minority exists, but Leeds do not have the reputation that they once had”

    http://www.hooligandvds.net/product_info.php?products_id=39

    http://www.network54.com/Forum/283664/

    Still very active on their travels – West Yorkshire Police hinder their activities in Leeds.

    Ever seen any reports of Northern Ireland fans being involved in football related violence?

    “a family could attend the club and their only major problem is that they are shite”

    Wow. I think our “family enclosure” is sold out for the Euros.

    “Oh yes you are. Take responsibility for something for once.”

    No, I’m not. What would you like me to take responsibility for?

    “I am not hypocritical. Happy to condemn stupid fuckers wherever they are.”

    Good.

    Maybe the penny has dropped – at last!

  • seanniee

    Message to all 6 county fans.The best teams in the world are all Ketholics.Brasil, Argentina,
    France,Spain,Portugal and Italy.All the rubbish ones are Orange.England,Scotland and NI.
    So get supporting some new teams,at least you will see good footballers instead of the “windsor” park jokers.

  • Democratic

    God – this discussion really has reached a new low. Depressing.

  • Realist

    “God – this discussion really has reached a new low. Depressing”

    Indeed.

    seaniee’s post reeks of the rancid stench of naked sectarianism.

    Also devoid of knowledge on the basics, given the inverted commas around Windsor, and the lack of awareness around the metabolism of the “orange” teams mentioned.

    Truly pathetic.

  • give it a rest

    Now, now Realist-If the shoe was on the other foot you would be shouting ‘ troll’ and squealing for IP numbrs to be checked.

    As you already well know, SeanniEe is clearly a troll.

    How pathetic can you get?

    ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ…………..

  • give it a rest

    Realist spends long enough on this site day in day out to easily spot trolling-if he wants to spot it, that is.

    His averting of his eyes to ‘Ketholic Seanniee’s’ obvious trolling is pitiful in the extreme.

    Realist’s desperate trawling to find dirt on the Irish national team’s fans has failed so miserably that he is now left to cling onto trolls as a means to persist in his jealousy and envy.

    from trawling to trolling-how sad……….

  • Patrique

    Finding dirt on ROI fans is easy, half of them wear Scottish football jerseys. Not to be racist about this, but Celtic jerseys should be banned in Iteland, especially in GAA grounds. Being looking to get that off my chest for a while now.

  • Patrique

    Seanniee, turns out the Ketholics of Spain are not that good. Still, I suppose there is an exception to every rule. N.Ireland abú.

  • slug

    Harpo

    “But NI fans will look ahead to Spain with the same old eternal hope that they are in that league and can beat Spain. Maybe they will, but if they do it won’t be on talent level – it will yet another spectacular performance from players who do much better than they should.”

    You said it. 3:2.

    1982 repeated!

  • Realist

    give it a rest,

    I hope you has as pleasant an evening as I did

    🙂

    Healy for a Knighthood.

    Good night!