Enough promise on display to earn some patience
Analysis:It was not, needless to say, the result we wanted, but I hope Giovanni Trapattoni doesn’t choose to merely find fault with the performance and, maybe, point the finger at some of the younger players, like James McClean, as he’s often done before. Usually in an effort to try and prove he was right all along to stick with his tried and tested.
Equally, I hope the game isn’t used against Shane Long, in a “you all wanted him but what did he do tonight?” kind of way. Last night didn’t go for him, he didn’t get much ball, he was too often isolated and the combination with Simon Cox didn’t really work.
But we’ve seen enough of Long to know what he’s capable of, he should not be judged by the manager on last night’s performance.
We saw some promise, though, hopefully enough to persuade Trapattoni several of these younger players deserve patience and more than another chance. We saw we can play in a more creative way, there were enough bright spots to give us some cheer.
None more so than Séamus Coleman. Why wasn’t he a regular in the team before now, why wasn’t he in the Euro 2012 squad? We’ll never know. But the way he played last night was the way he played as a young fella in Killybegs, and on to Sligo and Everton. He should be in the team to stay.
Wes Hoolahan too, when he came on, did enough in that spell to show he’s good enough at this level. He showed he can influence the game, substantially, playing creatively between the opposition’s lines of midfield and defence. His intelligent running off the ball could only be seen by those actually at the game, a lesson, perhaps, to those who tend to rely on DVDs to review players’ performances. Hoolahan was impressive, as usual.
Our hopes for a youthful, new era under Trapattoni were overplayed ahead of last night; as much as we wanted to see new faces my fears were realised that we saw too many in that line-up and the balance wasn’t right. It was, certainly, unlike Trapattoni to make so many changes – granted, many of them enforced.
Once the Greeks began to play and move about in their floating arrangement the old problem of our shortage of numbers and lack of mobility in midfield resurfaced, and we saw our usual shortage of possession.
My hope is the manager now abandons his chiefly stubborn nature and accepts that 4-4-2 has become obsolete, a liability against respectable opposition. Last night, despite the defeat, gave hope of a new approach.
It wasn’t without its problems, of course. McClean and Robbie Brady did well in the early stages, but as the game went on their effectiveness diminished.
We had no plan to deal with the influence of Samaras once he started dropping in to midfield, James McCarthy wasn’t, to be honest, great; we struggled to deal with a cute team that makes the most of what it has. In many ways, we’d like to be what they are.
There are a few months now before our next games. Time for Trapattoni to think about things. Richard Dunne and Seán St Ledger, hopefully, will be back, so decisions have to be made about the team. About John O’Shea too, where does he play?
But it’s further up the pitch the biggest decisions have to be made. Three in midfield against Sweden and Austria, or back to Plan A? Who knows. Again, he’s a stubborn man, reluctant to change his ways, but we’ll see. We’ll see if he cares enough, if he’s been moved to change by recent events.
The small crowd last night reflected the current lack of interest in the international team, which was sad to see, but there was no great booing come full-time. That, probably, was because they saw a little bit of change, in terms of the players selected and the approach adopted by the manager. They got behind the younger fellas and were prepared to give them a chance. Hopefully Trapattoni will do the same.