Rigid game plan ensured Irish failure
Forget Trapattoni, the entire Republic of Ireland squad hasn’t done itself justice, writes LEE CARSLEY
AS A COACH nowadays at Coventry City I’m always thinking about how a team should set up. I go to sleep rolling it around in my head, dream about it and wake up scribbling down ideas over breakfast.
Can’t help it.
After the Croatia game I couldn’t help it either. What would I do if put in charge of the Republic of Ireland? I’ve never worked with Giovanni Trapattoni so I can only write about what I’ve seen these past few days and what I know these Irish players are capable of.
That’s why it doesn’t make sense to me. We were so passive, so poor against Croatia that I stated last week that we must press up on Spain. What I meant by that was something Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid did to disrupt Barcelona’s tiki-taka style in last November’s El Clasico.
You press them at the source of their attack. Real attackers forced Barca goalie Victor Valdes into an error that led to an early goal. How? All the Barca defenders were man-marked.
I would have instructed Aiden McGeady and Duffer to crowd the full backs, with Robbie targeting the weaker Spanish centre backs.
Pique has more of a tendency to take risks so that’s the guy you go for. It would have given Robbie an opportunity to inspire his team-mates. The ball would have ended up at Ramos’s feet but every Irish player would know this in advance and could adjust their position.
Eventually Iker Casillas would have been forced to kick it long. Then they would find themselves in our football environment.
We made far more tackles than Spain because they don’t tackle so much as close down the space. When an Irish player looked up, he saw no option and hit it aimlessly long or into touch or it was intercepted.
If the full press up the field didn’t work out we could have gone to Plan B. Let their centre back have the ball but tighten up elsewhere.
The third option would’ve been to drop back and get our shape. This is what we did. But it was all we did.
In football the ability to adapt is paramount. I learned an awful lot about coaching from David Moyes at Everton.
David would shout “change” from the sideline several times in a game. We’d immediately go 4-3-3. Twenty minutes later, “change” would see us revert to 4-5-1 to stop them overrunning us in midfield. When we got a grip of that area “change” would allow us switch to 4-4-2. We’d constantly work on this in training.
David was noticing weaknesses in the opposition or reacting to their changes. He was having his battle with the other manager.
Despite obvious problems, change never happened against Croatia or Spain.
It was even like for like with our subs: James McClean for Duff (winger for winger) or Paul Green for Whelan (defensive midfielders both).
Don’t be fooled either: we didn’t play 4-5-1 against Spain. It was the exact same system employed against Croatia. It was the Trapattoni system.
The only change was Simon Cox playing in Keane’s role with Robbie trying to play in Kevin Doyle’s usual position.
It was a failure.
I could see what we were trying to do without the ball – the plan was to be compact – but I’ve no idea what the idea was when we had the ball.