‘Pass it to a green shirt’ – return to basics badly needed for Trap’s men
It was shameful Ireland were directed to play the way they did against Sweden
James McCarthy will be vital for the Republic of Ireland against Austria; pictureed also is Marc Wilson, who voiced his frustration with the Irish set-up recently. Photograph: Inpho
In the last week, sport gave us the magnificence of Dublin v Kerry and the majesty of Sunday’s hurling final. In between, Irish soccer gave us another dull night, one that paled in comparison to the excitement of those GAA games.
Leaving aside the frustration of a soccer man, Friday night’s style of play, never mind the result, was a low point in Irish football history. We’ve had coaching courses, development officers and high performance managers to beat the band for many years now, but I’ve never been at a coaching course where the only tactic suggested for a team, at any level, was to kick the ball long and high and play off the scraps.
It was abysmal and shameful that our team was directed to play that way. I wondered what our second Dutch high performance director, Ruud Dokter, made of it all. He’ll hardly promote that Stone Age tactical display as a blueprint for the future of Irish football.
Away to Sweden, the team played with style, possession was retained and used to allow our full-backs advance to link with our forwards and wide men. At times, though, the long punt was used effectively, as it was against England at Wembley, the mix of tactics suggesting a new era was dawning under Trap.
I cannot understand why that variation was abandoned on Friday. I pleaded in the pre-match column for a mixture of build-up play. We didn’t get it. It was so predictable it was ridiculous. Every team needs a plan B. We didn’t have one.
These Irish players are better than the manager thinks. They’re brought up encouraged to control the ball and then pass to a team mate. Simple but effective, when done well. I actually felt sorry for them, their ability and potential is being squandered.
Clutching at straws
So where does it leave us for tonight’s game? Clutching at straws we may be, but a win in Vienna would keep the dream of qualification alive.
Austria have not been great in the group to date, their win at home to the Swedes and draw in Dublin helped camouflage those points dropped in Kazakhstan.
In Dublin, their centre back pairing of Aleksandar Dragovic and Emanuel Pogatetz were vulnerable and struggled to contain the physical aggression of Shane Long and Conor Sammon. But even the early loss of playmaker Zlatko Junuzovic failed to upset their rhythm and ability to outplay Ireland with the ball.