Are we setting the bar too high with our sporting expectations?

I doubt it will compare favourably with the ‘Thrilla in Manila,’ or indeed ‘The Brawl in the Hall,’ but the news that two of the defeated Northern Ireland players indulged in a bout of fisticuffs on the plane departing Iceland just about sums up the week from an international football perspective on the island.
For Steve Staunton, the post-mortem assaults started at half-time in Dublin’s RTE studio last night and continued today; similarly, Nigel Worthington has faced the music today in the column inches. But are we being too harsh on the two highly respected former internationals who, in reality, are tasked with leading teams with relatively limited talent and depth to the heights of Summer participation in the European Championships and World Cups?

  • Token Dissent

    Chris, I take the point that many people have unrealistic high expectations, and that both teams (especially NI) are in groups that make qualification very difficult. Having said that it isn’t unrealistic to expect tactical and managerial competence, and that hasn’t been forthcoming.

    I still can’t get my head round Worthington’s thinking over the last week. But hey, failure and defeat builds character!

  • Jackie Fuller Tan

    Remember the guy who confronted Staunton with a gun, shortly after he was appointed? The gag about him being the Terminator back from the future with a mission to save Irish Soccer has turned out to be true.
    Wonder what was the background to the scrap on the plane between Keef and Geordie? Both are ‘Heads The Balls’ but Keith has been a loyal servant to NI whilst McCartney suspiciously only appeared back on the scene when the team was at their peak-then things went pear-shaped….
    Fair play to NI-Great victories in their campaign against big nations. As for the Republic, the defining moment was the San Marino equaliser when the Goalie decided to join the rest of the team in going AWOL when it mattered most.

    Expectations are too high but getting lower all the time.

  • Rory

    “Are we setting the bar too high with our sporting expectations?”

    I wouldn’t know, Chris. But we might be scraping the barrel a wee bit too thin to hoke out tired sporting references to highlight a story on…… (you got it!) a matter of sport.

  • kensei

    A decent manager can elevate players to play above themselves. That said, I thought while Ireland could have credibly walked away with 0-0 or 1-1 against there Czechs on Wednesday night, but we always looked a little short on pace and quality.

    The problem is that Stan has been handled all wrong. He should have been No 2 to Robson or someone else and groomed for the position, even for the upcoming WC Campaign. As it is, we’ve done neither him nor the team no favours. Not entirely sure if we should get rid of him or continue on now though; sacking him just suggests even more of a shambles, and to be honest the group was lost at the beginning and he’s improved a bit since then.

  • mc

    Worthington….what a joke. He has come in with the promise of a steady ship and actually made distructive changes to the set up. McCartney is technically a better player than Craigan (probably) but there was a reason he was out..his ego. Also fair point in Tele on Craigans leadership of the back 4.
    Brunt is a great crosser…so leave him out?!

    Worthlesston (ha ha)is more interested on enforcing himself and making a mark than on the benefit of the team.

    Don’t worry Nig, you take ALL the credit for the last few days.

    But the worst thing is the masses of people queuing up to say “ah well what more can we expect”
    We should expect better and believe in ourselves.

  • fair_deal

    “But are we being too harsh on the two highly respected former internationals who, in reality, are tasked with leading teams with relatively limited talent and depth to the heights of Summer participation in the European Championships and World Cups?”

    I don’t follow RoI or football press in sufficient detail to comment but on the NI front the answer is No.

    The expectations for NI were built upon recent performances, it wasn’t misty eyed reminscences of Espana 82 etc.

    Nigel Worthington took over a team in their group games that had 4 wins, 1 draw and 1 loss and for a time had reached the top of their group. Two of the wins (Spain Sweden) and the draw (Denmark with home advantage) were matches that people would have not have been surprised if we’d lost. This was partially done by the strength of the team spirit that was built up. It was even more impressive because of the woeful times before it.

    With almost the same player pool as Sanchez he has led the team to 3 points out of a possible 9 and we are left with having to pull off three performances against the three strongest teams (two with home advantage). In the two defeats he has shown himself to be tactical and managerial inept. The team spirit is hardly faring well neither if two of the players are exchanging blows – (it probably isn’t a coincidence that it involved a player who stayed with the team in the Sanchez era and one who went off in a sulk that Worthington brought back.)

    As for highly respected international, that doesn’t make him a good international manager nor should it be a protection from criticism, it comes with the job.

    He has so far not succeeded in making the transition to the international game. He is simply applying how he played at Norwich to the NI team. He has got caught up in trying to stamp his own mark on the team unfortunately his mark seems to be of defeat. Low expectations are not a good managerial stance but he seems to exemplify them.

    I can cope with defeats – I sat in the home terraces (and some of the away games) during the great goal famine. However I hope to see a team on ths pitch who know what they are trying to do, want to play for each other, put up a fight and have confidence in their boss – if we lose so be it. That’s what he was given and is managing to screw up.

  • Séamaí

    Neither our teams have the quality to continously produce the goods at European/World level. The only real answer is to combine both and add to our chances. Look at rugby and cricket to see what all-island teams can achieve.

  • Billy

    Kensei

    I would agree with you to a point. To be fair to Staunton, he has had very little luck. Sir Bobby Robson is a great manager and extremely knowledgable. Unfortunately, due to illness, I’m not sure how much he has been able to assist Staunton.

    Like many other people, I thought that Staunton was a very risky appointment (6 months as assistant manager at Walsall!). However, had he worked out, we would all be praising the FAI. The bottom line is that they took a chance and it didn’t pay off.

    My only real complaint about the FAI is the fact that they gave a 4 YEAR DEAL to an unproven manager – why?

    Frankly, I think that Staunton should go. The RoI have a great crop of youngsters coming through – we need an experienced manager who can assist in their development. They cannot waste more time and money on someone who may come good (but it doesn’t look likely).

    Also, I think we’ll get a tough draw in the WC qualifiers due to our world ranking. If we are to stand any chance, we need an experienced proven manager.

    As I understand it, Staunton is independently wealthy outside football. He has such a proud record as a player, I would hope that he would have the decency to stand down.

    I hope he doesn’t force the FAI’S hand and try to screw them for a fortune in compensation. I guess it’s their own fault but I think that Staunton would tarnish his reputation very badly and that would be a pity.

    I think Stan needs to realise that he’s not up to it (or at least that it was far too much too soon) and step down.

    I also hope that the FAI have some foresight( there’s a 1st time for everything!) and are drawing up a list of potential replacements.

    If we go into the WC qualifiers with Stan in charge, I honestly think that we can forget about it.

  • Doctor Who

    seamai

    “Look at rugby and cricket to see what all-island teams can achieve. ”

    You are joking. Irelands´Rugby side struggle to beat Namibia (lowest ranked side in world cup), have never been past the quarter finals even though they are ranked in the top 10 and they very rarely win the 4,5 or six nations tournament. The IRFU don´t even recognise Belfast as being part of Ireland. Rugby is a sport taken seriously by a dozen nations, football on the other hand is the only true global sport. You may also like to know that Ireland´s cricket team don´t even have test status so their recent acheivements are very small, although welcome.

    As for expectations I think fair deal summed it up very well.

  • páid

    I suppose a united team might happen sometime in the future, but even if it did come about it would only have the slightest chance of improvement of the current teams.

    Let’s face it, it would be the ROI team + 3 or 4 of the current NI team.

    World Beaters?

    Tricolour would have to go. Anthem similar. Songs, not much of a loss I grant you.

    You wouldn’t get it past the utterly pathetic olé-olés, never mind the bonehead stand-ups.

    Give it a rest.

  • patrique

    The bar is always too high, and the players, that’s those people on the pitch, escape all blame. Look at Sven with England. Qualified easily, got beat on penalties in the finals, and England are useless. But he was expected to win World cups. When you consider that outside of 1966, England have only been in one semi-final,What is all the optimism based on? You notice Sven doesn’t allow Englishmen to take penalties for City.

    Rep of Ireland, and our wee team have even less chance. But managers get crucified in the press.

    Ask yourself this. How many British or Irish players are truly world class? Possibly Rooney, and certainly Richards in the future, but that is it.

    How can they be expected to win?

  • Séamaí

    Doc Who

    Ireland’s rugby team enter the World Cup with realistic hopes of reaching the knock-out stages. Even though relatively few nations are in contention it undoubtedly helps our cause that there are players from NI lining out along side fellas from the south.

    Anybody who somehow claims that having a larger player base does not benefit a team is living in denial.

    Our two soccer teams just don’t cut it at the highest levels and the sooner both associations start thinking outside the box for the good of the game here, the better.

  • USA

    As I posted on the previos soccer thread:
    Soccer in Ireland is so badly organized both North and South you can’t even qualify for the major international tournaments where you could be the underdogs who have a chance to beat Brazil, Italy etc in the group stages.
    Soccer in Ireland is just a mess…you need root and branch reform. One team is a no brainer, and before the NI fans get upset, i’m not saying that from some political agenda, i’m stating it as a world soccer reality.
    If you don’t want to address the underlying issues then the North can continue to get beat under a leaky roof at Windsor Park while the South can continue to be shite.
    You guys blame managers etc – where is the money in the FAI or IFA for top quality managers? there is none – they can’t even fix the roof in the stand.
    Reform – Strategic Plan – Investment – Compete – Success – Money – Investment – Compete – Success.
    Get real.

  • páid

    Ermmm…my screen is playing up.

    Is that last post from a guy called Brazil?

  • IJP

    Beacom’s article is scandalous. But then, from the (lack of) quality of the cliché-ridden drivel he produces, we should certainly have low expectations on that count.

    “We were well on our way”, were we?

    We were at no stage, in real terms, ahead of Sweden or Spain. As Lawrie himself warned “We’ve got 13 points now, we’re going to need at least another 13” (from six games including Spain and Sweden away).

    Sorry, but Beacom simply hasn’t a baldie notion what he’s talking about.

    Chris

    The answer to your question is yes.

    We sometimes forget that some of these funny Eastern countries with larger populations than us are, well, better than us!

  • Billy

    IJP

    “Beacom simply hasn’t a baldie notion what he’s talking about”

    For once, I couldn’t agree more with you.

    I think the Belfast Telegraph is a pretty good regional newspaper. For the life of me, I can’t understand why they can’t get a decent football journalist.

    I’m not even an NI fan but I think that anyone can see that Beacom’s knowledge of football is extremely limited and most of what he writes is crap.

  • USA

    We’re not Brazil, were northern …Brasil.
    Thats better.

  • Can we not keep the talk of a *United* team to the other thread? It would be boring to have it cluttering up two simultaneously.

    On that other thread, we’ve had less than enthralling discussion on who qualified for which tournament over the last 50 years. The point is in terms of our population size, number of players playing and their quality, we over-performed in the 1980s and early 90s. I know we had players like Jennings, O’Neill and McIlroy, but there were also guys in the squad who turned out for the likes of Shrewsbury, Bury and Coleraine.

    Our population is still one of the lowest of the FIFA-affiliated countries, we have a limited number of people actually playing the game and the squad no longer has the 1 or 2 stars of 82 and 86; but it has the capacity, when motivated and managed correctly, to produce the odd upset and at other times to play competently enough to be able to take a third place in the kind of group it finds itself now. Worthington does not appear to have that ability to motivate and his team selection and substitutions have been positively bizarre.

    I really doubt even if Sanchez had stayed that we would have qualified for the Finals, with the campaign finishing with those 2 away matches against Spain and Sweden and even home against Denmark would have been no picnic. But I’m afraid now about how much of a tonking we’re going to actually take in those remaining games and the psychological effect it will have on the younger players in the squad.
    “If I hadn’t seen such riches, I could cope with being poor”

  • Jackie Fuller Tan

    With NI’s hopes fading fast after a great campaign, it will now be at leasrt 24 years since they qualified for the final stages of a tournament(South Africa 2010?)Number 1 at the time ‘Holding Back The Years’ funnily enough.
    For the Republic, it will be at least 8 years, with a similar long barren spell beckoning.
    Can’t help thinking that this current mess tends to vindicate the views of George Best who wanted a unified team for practical and not political reasons.
    I know ,of course,that it’ll never happen.

  • Briso

    Posted by Jackie Fuller Tan on Sep 14, 2007 @ 07:14 AM
    …but there were also guys in the squad who turned out for the likes of Shrewsbury, Bury and Coleraine.

    Aye, but he was the greatest player ever to sing karaoke for Northern Ireland and possessor of the most impressive tache in Spain, a country famed for intra labial/nasal hair furniture. It can still be seen on Setanta Sports Eircom League coverage in the original ’82 vintage moustache/mullet combination.

  • Bemused

    Bunch of spides brawl on plane – yawn……..

  • get used to it

    anthemn,tricolour would have to go?
    keep your britward team.
    I would not support any all-ireland team if it means diluting my nationality to keep queen worshipping madmen from burning up their own -country.long live partition!until unionists decide otherwise.And if they decide let it be acceptance of the republic and not negotiation.

  • gram

    >>On that other thread, we’ve had less than enthralling discussion on who qualified for which tournament over the last 50 years.< >The point is in terms of our population size, number of players playing and their quality, we over-performed in the 1980s and early 90s. I know we had players like Jennings, O’Neill and McIlroy, but there were also guys in the squad who turned out for the likes of Shrewsbury, Bury and Coleraine.<

  • Democratic

    “I understand that many N.I fans don’t want the team to be successful, content with the odd upset and drubbings at home to Iceland.

    Why does any story regarding Northern Ireland football bring out the trolls. What is it exactly that upsets them so much they feel the need to do this. BTW – Looks like “Get Used to It” is giving his view on the consequences of one team in Ireland – I wonder how many Southerners feel like him – it certainly adds a new slant to the old chestnut – puts a bit of a spoke in the political machinations or some our contributors.

  • J Kelly

    Gram I dont know about light years behind Scotland take out celtic and rangers and the top sides in Ireland could compete. The way forward is an all ireland league that may entice younger players to stay a while longer before heading over the water and an Ireland team that with a good manager, massive support and a bit of luck be in contention for qualification again. Who believes that either team has a chance of qualifying for the world cup 2010 in South Africa.

    The difficulty i believe in building these new structures lies with the men in grey suits in the FAI and the IFA. One association means less business class seats, less executive box tickets and all the rest that goes with job of running a micky mouse football association. The Setanta cup shows that fottball supporters are up for it. A few wins and the doubters wont be long flocking back to the brand new Landsdowne Road.

  • gram

    If disagreeing with the current set up of Irish football makes me a troll then I’m happy to be a troll.

  • Cromwell

    At it again Gram? Total lack of understanding about what an international team means to its followers!

  • Democratic

    Disagreeing with the current IFA set up is perfectly fine Gram – I would be inclined to agree with this – however the comment form you I highlighted really was trolling in it’s lowest form – and you know it too.

  • The way forward is an all ireland league that may entice younger players to stay a while longer before heading over the water and an Ireland team that with a good manager, massive support and a bit of luck be in contention for qualification again.

    And where exactly would this “massive support” come from do you think?

    The Setanta cup shows that fottball supporters are up for it.

    Seen the crowd figures for the Setanta matches?

    A few wins and the doubters wont be long flocking back to the brand new Landsdowne Road.

    Flocking back?

  • gram

    >>Disagreeing with the current IFA set up is perfectly fine Gram – I would be inclined to agree with this – however the comment form you I highlighted really was trolling in it’s lowest form – and you know it too<< The reason most people support teams is in the hope they are successful and you can enjoy that future success. Its obvious that for many N.Ireland supporters success is a secondary concern.

  • Chris,

    I don’t think we’re setting our expectations too high. Most NI fans didn’t expect NW to lead us to qualification. If he’d taken 9 points from Liechtenstein, Latvia and Iceland that would have been fantastic, even if we’d failed to get results against Denmark, Sweden and Spain. 6 would have done, and really, that certainly shouldn’t have been to big an ask.

    If things don’t pick up, he looks almost certain to get only 3 points out of 6 matches. The bar maybe isn’t as high as qualification, but it’s a lot higher than that.

    And can the usual suspects please give over. You’ve already diverted one thread into waffle about some wet dream of an all-Ireland football team. What happened, people got so bored of your warped logic they stopped posting so you had to come and disrupt this one too? NI fans almost unanimously don’t want it and apparently quite a few Republic fans don’t want it either. It’s a non-starter. End of.

  • “Its obvious that for many N.Ireland supporters success is a secondary concern.”

    OK, I’ll bite.

    Yes it is. You don’t support Northern Ireland for the glory.

    NI fans don’t want an all-UK team any more than an all-Ireland one. They’re our team. I couldn’t care less how the (Republic of) Ireland rugby team does, and I’m not alone in that.

    But of course, if success is your only concern, an all-UK team would be even better than an all-Ireland one.

  • gram

    >>NI fans almost unanimously don’t want it and apparently quite a few Republic fans don’t want it either. It’s a non-starter. End of.< >Yes it is. You don’t support Northern Ireland for the glory.
    <

  • dub

    Beano,

    Its simply dishonest and unfair to call the ireland rugby team the republic of ireland rugby team… it IS a 32 county team and the IRFU HAVE made moves on both flags and anthems (at home: ulster and roi flags and 2 anthems, away: four provinces flag and neutral anthem).. of course you are entitled not to identify with the team but please do not let your lack of emotional identification lead to misrepresentation.

    The one team/ 2 team argument has at least been conducted here fairly rationally and we have seen one very (imho) honest response from a roi fan as to implications of one team. very few posters appear however to be picking up on USA’s points.. everyone in soocer on this island needs to think outside the box. i genuinely believe that an ireland league with about 12 premier teams and real investment would lead to a revolution in soccer on this island.. there are simply far too many teams on the island… a properly functioning all island league would reap dividends in the long run for both international teams.. modern soccer is a business, it needs to be conducted that way in ireland. the amateur gaa is infinitely more savvy than the fai and ifa combined…

  • IJP

    Crumbs lads, can we really not just discuss the topic of the thread? This really is very boring.

    Billy

    Actually we don’t disagree that often – just like real life, you only tend to chime in on the points with which you disagree!

    However, I’m not sure I’d go so far as to say the Tele (in its current form) is a good regional paper, and that is a serious problem.

    What we lack in the sports world is a serious journalist (I’m not one to harp back, but I mean a Malcolm Brodie type) to challenge what is going one without just getting all clichéd and tabloidy about it.

    And in fact, we largely lack the same thing in political and social journalism. For example, the lead story the other day was about newly qualified teachers not being able to get jobs – not once did the article query whether we qualify too many teachers, whether anyone has noticed we don’t need as many teachers, whether this is a new issue, or indeed whether it is reasonable to expect to end up in the profession you studied.

    We need something in the regional media which is a lot better than “This is terrible, someone should do something”, and more like “Let’s challenge these assumptions, and ask what our own Government can do about the issue?”

    Perhaps the success of Slugger is that, frankly, it’s the only place you’re likely to get such challenges.

  • fair_deal

    IJP

    “Let’s challenge these assumptions, and ask what our own Government can do about the issue?”

    It wouldn’t hurt to challenge the assumption that what can be done is automatically up to government.

  • Sports Car

    I thought it was the players on the pitch who scored the own goals that cost them the game.

  • “it IS a 32 county team and the IRFU HAVE made moves on both flags and anthems (at home: ulster and roi flags and 2 anthems, away: four provinces flag and neutral anthem)..”

    If you really think that’s respecting the 2 traditions/jurisdictions you’re deluded. And since when do all-Ireland teams classify Belfast as “outside Ireland” ?

    IJP – totally right on the standard of local journalism.

    “very few posters appear however to be picking up on USA’s points.. “

    Maybe when he makes one…

  • willowfield

    GRAM

    We have a combined population greater than Scotland but for some reason our football is light years behind. Wonder why that is?

    Hardly light years behind: Scotland is ranked marginally above both Ireland teams.

    But it might be something to do with the fact that football is a much bigger sport in Scotland than in Ireland! More players. More tradition. More spectators. More interest.

    DUB

    Its [sic] simply dishonest and unfair to call the ireland rugby team the republic of ireland rugby team… it IS a 32 county team and the IRFU HAVE made moves on both flags and anthems (at home: ulster and roi flags and 2 anthems, away: four provinces flag and neutral anthem)..

    Flying the Ulster and ROI flag at home is completely illogical. Why is there no flag to represent NI? Why are Cavan, Monaghan and Donegal represented by two flags? And I didn’t hear two anthems at the most recent home game. What happened there?

  • gram

    >>Hardly light years behind: Scotland is ranked marginally above both Ireland teams.< <>But it might be something to do with the fact that football is a much bigger sport in Scotland than in Ireland! More players. More tradition. More spectators. More interest. <

  • I’m afraid there were no explicit polls, but you can see what the fans think:

    here, here, here, here and finally here

    I particularly liked this quote:
    “When they do these poll things, it might as well be a fcuking border poll…all the dicks of the day with no interest in the OWC team registering their opinion on the future of OWC.”

    Replace “do these poll things” with “discuss this issue” and you more or less nail the last 3 football-related threads on Slugger.

  • willowfield

    Conveniently forgetting Celtic and Rangers and the Scottish league.

    Two teams based in a large football-obsessed city, built up over a hundred years. No equivalents do or will exist in Ireland.

    We’d get that too if we weren’t split.

    Nonsense. Ireland being “split” is not the reason why football is bigger in Scotland than in Ireland. There just isn’t the same tradition or interest in Ireland as in Scotland and you can’t manufacture that. In Scotland, football is a monopoly sport among the working class – not the same in Ireland.

  • gram

    >>I particularly liked this quote:
    “When they do these poll things, it might as well be a fcuking border poll…all the dicks of the day with no interest in the OWC team registering their opinion on the future of OWC.”<

  • USA

    Sorry if my post irritated some readers, as I am aware the single Irish team / single Irish league issue was debated on the previous thread.
    However, if you read Chris Donnellys intro again I feel you must concede that my post on this thread was not irrelevent. I argue in favour of a strategic vision for soccer in Ireland – which is woefully lacking at present. I ignore the tendancy to blame managers and individual players when the bad results come in as I feel the causes ultimately lie elsewhere.
    Dissapointed that some people get so defensive that they can’t see the forest for the trees. I’ll leave you now to blame Worthington, Staunton, bad luck and own goals. Its been the same shite for 25 years.
    Now THAT is “boring”
    PS. Liam Brady, Derek Dugan, George Best, Norman Whiteside, Stapleton and many more great Irish players all favoured one national team for international competition – but some of the people on these threads claim to also know better than the above named professional proponents of the game.

  • IJP

    FD

    Yes, that’s what I meant by “ask what can our Government do about the issue?”

    The answer may legitimately be “nothing”.

    Gram

    The All-Ireland rugby team is also historically light years behind Scotland’s.

    What’s your point?

  • IJP

    USA

    It’s nothing remotely to do with this thread, as well you know.

    If you want to discuss an all-Ireland team, there are 100,000 other threads on which to do so. Kindly go and do so there.

    This thread is about whether or not expectations for both teams are too high, and by extention whether the media is responsible for that expectation level.

  • Jackie Fuller Tan

    First we had the scrap on the plane over the passport prank-now we have Stephen Ireland and Grannygate. If this is the calibre of men representing our teams, it would appear that we are placing our expectations very high indeed.
    I finished with the whole effing lot of them-the shower of spoilt, juvenile b*stards.

  • Bran Mak Morn

    I don’t for the life of me see why Stan is under such pressure now. Earlier results for the ROI were poor to say the least, but in reality I would never have expected them to come back from Prague with any more than a point. As for our own wee nation however, no points out of 6 against two “inferior” teams is very poor.

  • dub

    willowfield and beano,

    i said irfu have made moves.. they might not be entirely to your satisfaction, but i think it is churlish not to even recognise the fact. At the moment in world cup campaing there is no tricolour flying and there is a neutral anthem. I know about the inconsistencies re: ravenhill recently and i believe that this should be solved by a na b NOT being sung in dublin and only four provinces flag being officially flown, then we can have same policy for home (and by that i mean all over the island) and away (away from the island)… I do believe that this will happen. I do not think that progress toward this is helped by such a begrudging attitude. I personally applaud the ifa for all they have done, and would not criticise them as you have done the irfu.. none of us will ever get everything we want in a situation as complex as ireland. the fact is that years ago the irfu only flew one flag and flew one anthem and no complaints at all from northern unionists… now that considerable changes have been made there is an avalanche of criticism.. i find that strange and disingenuous.

    regards,

    dub.

  • IJP

    Bran

    In a desperate attempt to keep to the point… I agree entirely.

    The RoI was in a very tough group – as I said above, it is ridiculous, all other things being equal, to expect a country of 4-4.5 million to beat a country of 10 million with such a fine footballing heritage as the Czechs. Throw in the Germans, and you’ve got a nigh impossible group.

    Stan has surprised me, in fact. The mauling against Cyprus (a team we should expect either Irish side to beat!) did not bode well, and the loss of the experience of Bobby Robson was significant. Yet he’s kept it together well at home, and been far from embarrassed away.

    It does show the value of patience. I’d say Nigel Worthington, who has been far from impressive so far (not just in team selection, but his comments post-Latvia were blimmin’ daft too), probably deserves the same hearing.

  • patrique

    It was Iceland remember, get one, get one free?

    And I support N.Ireland because it is our wee team, and to annoy all those “want to be Scottish” Republic fans from the North, also known as Celtic fans, pronounced Keltic.

    But then, hurling is my game.

  • Chris Donnelly

    FD

    Hard to argue with your points regarding the north, and they apply readily to the Republic.

    The choice of Staunton as manager immediately provoked fury precisely due to his lack of experience, and also confirmed for many the view that the FAI remained a short-sighted organisation, not interested in pursuing the big name managers the Republic’s (relatively) recent footballing successes and undoubted financial strength could and should have attracted.

    His appointment was a throw=back to the Giles era of appointing ‘one of the lads’ simply because of his playing reputation- an irony not lost on Liam Brady and Giles himself when Eamon Dunphy went on his post-match rant Wednesday night.

    Staunton’s team selections have come in for legitimate criticism- Reid’s omission on Saturday a case in point- though, at times, the media’s complaints about other selection options have been less justifiable. Under Staunton, a promising crop of younger players have come through which bodes well for the future.

    Yet, I can’t help but thinking, as IJP points out, that we have become a bit ridiculous in our expectations. When the group draw was made for the Euro Championships, I knew immediately that qualification was a long shot as it would necessitate either denying the Germans a place in the Final stages of a tournament for the first time or getting past a Czech team which reached the semi-finals of the last Euro Championships and contains some fantastic players.

    As for the north, or should I say the Glasgow Celtic of international teams (world beaters at home and utterly useless away- and I’m an ardent Celt), qualification wasn’t even on the radar when the draw was made, and only became so after the Manager and players developed a team spirit that was immediately recognised by the wider football world- hence the poaching of Sanchez, and with it any chances of qualification.

    I fear Worthington’s reign may be a short-lived one as the matches to come- against the 3 group heavyweights- may deliver a trio of losses that will be hard to take for fans who were dreaming of glory only a matter of weeks earlier.

    Yet, as in the case of

  • IJP

    Chris

    Spot on.

    Re the North, my concern is that we write off Worthington too soon. Lawrie got stuffed 4-1 at home by Norway at the start remember – we all went wild because we actually managed to score, but it’s worth recalling we did ship four at the other end! I also seem to remember our friend Beacom all but calling for Lawrie’s head after the Iceland 0-3 debacle.

    I’m still sore from the outrageous dismissal of Bryan Hamilton in 1995, followed by an almost-as-outrageous dismissal of McMenemy soon after just as he was putting together a proper youth system.

    There is a basic problem, that you allude to. If an NI manager does well, he’ll get poached. If he does poorly, he’ll get fired. Someone has to square that circle!

    In that light, a Staunton-style appointment, if supported by experience (which was, in theory, the plan with Bobby Robson) is a very good idea. The alternative is a job share.

  • páid

    IJP,

    1.5 million – you’re fucked.

    Chris,

    5 million – you’re also fucked.

    Happy United Ireland team (some hope) – 6.5 million.

    Also fucked.

  • Mike

    IJP –

    “We sometimes forget that some of these funny Eastern countries with larger populations than us are, well, better than us!”

    This statement does not however apply to Latvia who are (unlike 3/4 years ago), to put it bluntly, crap.

    And while you’re use of ‘Eastern’ indicates you weren’t including them, it’s worth pointing out that Iceland’s population is a fraction of Northern Ireland’s.

  • IJP

    Mike

    Fair points, but they re-emphasize what I’m trying to say.

    Gone are the days when we could get away with dodgy training facilities and non-existent youth development structures and still expect to beat those funny Eastern Bloc teams and thrash countries with smaller populations.

    They’ve professionalized vastly. We haven’t. And you can’t rely on one player.

  • abucs

    Ireland’s tactics against the Czech’s were one of a team that doesn’t think they are a good side IMHO. Maybe they’re not. ???

    The defense defended too far back and allowed the Czech’s lots of space in front of the box to come through and attack. Especially in the first half. The Czechs got their goal that way.

    When we had the ball we were in too much of a hurry to go forward away from our already deep defense. When you are hurrying forward ‘one out’ you are very predictable and your range of what you can do diminishes.

    Slow down. Pass the ball. Get your defense up the park so you can pass it to them if there is nothing on. Take your time and use mostly skill not all speed.

    A team that plays with the defense back is one that doesn’t think it has enough skill and confidence to defend up the park. A team that rushes forward with the ball is one that doesn’t think it has enough skill and confidence to hold onto it.

    Maybe they are right ????