We don't have the players or the right tactics

Sat, Oct 13, 2012, 01:00

SOCCER ANALYST:Ireland have had this coming and this was even worse than the nightmares in Poland and Astana

 IN FOOTBALL you get what you deserve but it needs to be established right away that this was a Championship team up against an elite Champions League side. We sat back and invited the Germans on and, boy, did they accept the offer.

They devoured us but what choice did we have? To go at them all guns blazing – as we tried to do very briefly only saw us exposed by their pace.

All Nicola Rizzoli, the Italian referee, managed to do last night was enrage Marco Reus, a mildly surprising starter ahead of Lukas Podolski. The Borussia Dortmund winger shredded our hopes in eight miserable minutes before the interval and a really tough night followed.

I hoped that the Germans would play more casually for the second half but they are too ruthless a football nation to allow that to happen. They gave a severely damaged Republic of Ireland squad – by retirement and injury – a beating we won’t forget for many a year. A 6-1 defeat will stay with us although many will quickly bury it and not return.

I looked around at half-time and saw the empty premium section as those who have expense tickets went indoors for some warmth. We can expect the seats high above them to be increasingly empty as this campaign goes on.

But we simply do not have the players to trouble Germany.

It very quickly became a man-to-man job last night, with my focus trained on Keith Fahey as the former St Patrick’s Athletic man went straight to Mesut Ozil of Real Madrid.

It confirmed my worry that Trapattoni doesn’t know his own players as well as he should. I’ve seen Fahey impress in plenty of roles over the years but never have I seen him tasked with minding the opposition’s most creative player. Keith was playing far too deep for his natural creativity to influence proceedings.

Not that his partners in the midfield trio – Keith Andrews and James McCarthy – were able to control the tempo either. That was another pre-match hope.

It never even came close to happening because they were overrun by superior opponents. We must accept that.

We must also accept McCarthy and Fahey are severely lacking the experience required to hold their own against world-class midfielders. Roy Keane at his best might, with John Giles and Liam Brady, have made a difference.

What became evident after a while was that Ozil was not going to allow Fahey follow him everywhere. His movement was outstanding, as was every German player. The tempo increased as the Germans found their rhythm after 15 minutes and the threat of goals hung in the air. And they duly came.

The tactical plan last night, as far as I can gather, was a holding formation. That meant everybody was responsible for minding their own patch. One weakness in the defensive structure was liable to open us up.

The tracking of Séamus Coleman and Stephen Ward meant too much responsibility was heaped on Aiden McGeady and Simon Cox in the final third.

The Germans were not long sussing out how to gather a simple three points. They moved it around with 25, 30 passes, happily ignoring the catcalls of the local crowd.

We were disciplined for 30 minutes but really they were toying with us, waiting for the gaps to appear.

The wheels came off after John O’Shea was blessed not to give up a penalty for pushing Reus when stuttering in possession. Reus got a yellow card from Rizzoli (who Trap certainly cannot call “Idiota” although Joachim Low may disagree).

There is no easy solution to their pace or ability. There was nothing overly wrong with our individual endeavour, they were a little nervy but each man was clearly trying his best. The quality is not there.

It just took a split second, when one of our players lost concentration as happens when you never have the ball.

The first goal came when Marcel Schmelzer got in behind Aiden McGeady and Coleman didn’t get a tackle in on Reus.

The second goal was a sucker punch on the break as Germany exposed our understandable desire to get forward in numbers.

The manager’s decision to switch to 4-4-2 with Shane Long on for Fahey was brave but mistaken. Almost immediately the three-man German midfield, now including Toni Kroos, came flooding through us to create the penalty.

Trapattoni’s selection policy – Jon Walters ahead of Long and Stephen Kelly still benched – doesn’t really matter after what we witnessed last night.

At 3-0 down it was understandable that we had to shoot from the hip. We looked disorganised, inexperienced and the German goals that followed were impressive.

But this had been coming. It was a continuation of Astana and the Polish nightmare. Except this was even worse.

Yes, Trap finally changed the system and can point to the loss of players forcing him to rebuild. There was no succession plan in place until it was too late. This is the problem now.

The only possibility is that Robbie Keane could return. It’s hard to be too critical of anyone really. The players are not there. That is the reality.

The good news about Tuesday is we will have more possession and should make the Faroes look like we did last night. Technically we are streets ahead of them. But those boys won’t crumble in the face of an Irish onslaught.

They’ve seen it all before and they will have been watching this.

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