Troubled night in Cologne for King and country
Interim manager tries to accentuate the positive as he points to Irish chances made
Ireland’s caretaker coach Noel King during the 3-0 defeat to Germany in Cologne. Photograph: Ina Fassbender/Reuters
For a while last night the news from Sweden suggested the Germans would not even have to beat Ireland to be sure of Group C’s top spot and their place at next summer’s World Cup in Brazil. Noel King might have been tempted to make sure Joachim Löw knew because the locals were threatening to do to his side here what they did to Giovanni Trapattoni’s a year ago today in Dublin.
The Swedes came back, though and the Germans, as they do, made sure that it didn’t matter anyway. Goals from Sami Khedira, Andre Schürrle and Mesut Özil gave them a victory that wrapped up their place on a plane to Brazil while all but mathematically making sure that Ireland will finish fourth in the group.
The 3-0 scoreline scarcely did it all justice. The Germans could have had many more, the Irish one or two . . . King, predictably, preferring to concentrate on the latter.
“Look,” he said, “there was a deflection for the first goal and the second, well, phew, but we created chances ourselves and I’m delighted that that happened.
“But I’m disappointed that we didn’t get the goal. In the last minute we could have one when Ciaran Clark had a header saved but they went down the other end and got their third because we’d thrown bodies forward, we have to accept that.
“I compliment my own players for the job they’ve done out there tonight and I also compliment the Germans on being a wonderful outfit.”
Asked about a team selection that, notwithstanding the loss of five players from last month due to injury or suspension, caused surprise when it became clear what roles Kevin Doyle and Glenn Whelan would play, the 57-year-old insisted he was pleased with the way things worked out in both instances.
“Kevin Doyle’s played many times on the right side of midfield,” he said, passing over the fact he has rarely had to take on so much defensive responsibility and never, perhaps, found the role as onerous as he appeared to last night.
“Glenn Whelan was probably more of a surprise to people after this week but he gave us legs and I thought he did an excellent job in that role.”
Back home, he was told, the TV critics were less happy with his own performance and the ones he had coaxed from the team on the night but King looked genuinely shocked at Eamon Dunphy’s claim that the Dubliner had made Giovanni Trapattoni look like Pep Guardiola.
“That’s the comedy programme that they have on after every match,” he said after initially admitting he needed a moment to consider the remark. “so maybe that’s a joke he’s telling . . . I don’t get it but maybe it was a joke.