Ireland’s Trap anything but funny
There are no easy games in international football; there might be nothing funny about overused footballing cliche’s but neither was there anything comical about the Republic’s struggle to overcome Kazakhstan, the country so famously parodied in the movie by Sacha Baron Cohen.
Giovanni Trapattoni was responsible for the ushering in of a new era but there was nothing particularly mouthwatering about the prospects of the future as Friday night’s game in Astana drew to a close.
Shorn of the services of Shay Given and Damien Duff as well as Darron Gibson who has declared himself unavailable for selection, Ireland’s dour performance was seemingly without redemption; the hosts seizing on a clear discomfort throughout the new look Irish side, taking full advantage when their captain Kairat Nurdauletov struck to give Kazakhstan the lead.
Indeed, it was through sheer fortune that the visitors were gifted a way back into the game. Desperately, clearly unable to fashion an opportunity of note of their own, Ireland were given the escape route of a penalty in the dying moments – Robbie Keane’s conversion might not have needed the talent of an up and coming star of the future but it at least showed the composure that experience can bring; so even in scoring, Trapattoni was given reason to ponder what might have been with his more experienced heads.
Keane was, of course, one of a number of players who Irish supporters would have liked to have seen given less game time at important stages during the European Championships; and although, at 28, Kevin Doyle is far from being the long term prospect on whose shoulders the hopes of the Green and White Brigade will rest, he did underline his own importance with a late winner.
One player who is earmarked as one for the future, James McClean, made his own thoughts on the poor performance clear. The Sunderland schemer is tipped for big things but has been frustrated by the lack of opportunities given to him by Trapattoni; he took to social networking after the result to vent those feelings.
McClean is back with the Ireland camp ahead of Tuesday’s friendly yet doesn’t seem to have been welcomed back with open arms by the Italian; and observers of yesterday’s training session described McClean’s contribution as “painful to watch”, a stark contrast to the enthusiastic way Robbie Brady’s performances have been met with.
Perhaps the glowing way Trapattoni spoke of the Manchester United left sider was an attempt to deflect the attention away from the uncomfortable story of McClean yet to those who were keen to determine the mood between Trapattoni and McClean, the manager’s eulogising over the United youngster only seemed to heighten the contemptuous feeling in the air towards the Sunderland man.
McClean is no stranger to dealing with controversy; pulling out of the Northern Ireland squad to wait to be selected by the Republic was a bold choice that showed a strength of character, and despite his internet faux pas there seems to be a fair amount of public sympathy for the in-form winger.
Irish legend Kevin Kilbane has gone on record as saying McClean should walk into the team and although McClean has let his frustrations get the better of him, his indiscretion is incomparable with the actions of the likes of Stephen Ireland – and indeed, with most observers scratching their head to try and comprehend why such a precocious talent has been given such a restricted amount of game time particularly with Ireland ushering in this new era, Trapattoni might well find that questions of shelf life might re-direct themselves to his own future at the club.
Last gasp results in football can be some of the more fantastic but the memory of the poor performance will remain; fickle as football fans can be, when such dramatic changes are overcoming their national side, they won’t be taken for fools – and although at 73 Trapattoni is maybe too late to change his ways, he might want to think twice about his attitude towards McClean to try and restore some optimism before Ireland’s colossal qualifier against Germany next month.
by: Wayne Barton, September 10, 2012