‘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
Eventually their midfield flexibility, spearheaded by Alaba and aided by subs Andreas Weimann and Julian Baumgartlinger, began to outnumber and outplay our stuck-in-4-4-2-land team.
One hopes lessons were learned about the necessity to match up with their three-man midfield. With Glenn Whelan out injured, Paul Green’s return could bring a bit more dynamism to the central area tonight. But Wes Hoolahan is still the man to give us that creative passing and ball retention. They appear, though, not to be a priority for Trap.
It’s a pity he shows less appreciation for Hoolahan’s skills than he does for those of his clubmate, Anthony Pilkington. He’s an energetic competitive midfielder, similar to Jon Walters in many ways. But it’s a big ask to expect him to deliver in such a crucial game on his first start.
On paper, though, the team looks a solid one. Friday’s game would have helped Richard Dunne readjust to the pace and concentration required for this level. There’s balance in this line-up, with some neat footballers and rough house merchants able to look after themselves. Let’s hope the coach has balanced the tactics too.
Again, we need to build our play from the back, through midfield, allowing better crossing and penetrative passing. And, again, I believe that McCarthy is the key. He must drop back and initiate play; Trap and our defenders must trust him to do so, or else we’re in for another night of chasing white shirts.
Marc Wilson’s training ground interview alluded to some confusion with regard to the manager’s tactical instructions, but his remarks about the imperative to pass the ball reeked of frustration – and common sense.
Like so many on the team, the lack of any sustained constructive passing patterns, combined with the increasing Swedish dominance, demoralised him and his performance was below the standard of his previous appearances.
The short gap between today and Friday appears to give little time for curing any ills, but some of the changes required don’t need massive time. One 40-minute training session of shadow play is all that’s required for a change of tactics and intent.
After all these years in the game, Trap, please go back to the basics. “Pass it to a green shirt,” was a shout I heard when I started with Liam Tuohy’s youth teams in 1982.
That priority shouldn’t have changed much, even in this era.