As I have written before: hope was immense before the game but only three minutes into it perhaps all Irish supporters were crashed down to Earth again. Then again right before half-time and maybe into that big hole right into the second half. You could tell it was bad luck with the third goal (it was!) and the referee was at fault not to give the penalty for the foul on Robbie Keane (yes, it was a penalty!) but what really counts was the naitivity and all-over bad defence on the other two goals plus the robot-like performance without real heart and the missing plan B by Giovanni Trapattoni.
And after arguing that I can never agree with player ratings I decided to do it myself. Perhaps you won’t agree but you are free to discuss.
Shay Given 5/10
Yes, he was the unluckist man on the pitch with that third goal: the ball hit the left post and the rebound from his head went in but he was at fault for the first one, I think. His positioning wasn’t good and the step to the right was a step too much. Then his dive came too late. On the second goal he couldn’t do much as his defence stopped playing when they repeated the France mistake to call for the referee’s whistle that never came. Maybe also Shay’s mind was drifting, who knows, but — listen — you actually have to play on until the referee stops the game. You can’t hope that the game stops immidiately the very second when you are about to start running around like a wild chicken. I hoped the Irish would have learnt something from Thierry Henry’s handball but I was wrong.
John O’Shea 5/10
As everyone in the back four far from his best. You would expect more from someone who once played for Manchester United especially not the painful naivety at times.
Richard Dunne 5/10
Again: not his usual rock in the heart of the defence performance. Far from his Russia form. Slow and outplayed at times.
Sean St. Ledger 6/10
Scored the only Irish goal with a powerful header. Apart from that he made some clearances but was also outplayed at times.
Stephen Ward 4/10
I may be biased on him because he now plays on Kevin Kilbane’s latest position but: I still shake my head about what he did on the second goal against Ireland. He just needs to hack the ball away for a clearance but instead passes it perfectly for Jelavic in the opposite direction. What was he thinking? Possibly nothing. It was just pure confusion — something I definitely would expect from a Wolves player that need to went down to the Championship after a poor season. But it makes me only miss Kevin Kilbane even more even if he’s better running up and down the left hand side as a midfielder. Apart from that mistake I haven’t seen much from him. Some crosses would have been useful but never came.
Damien Duff 6/10
Not at his Fulham best. Were too slow to ran through the defenders or on the right-hand side most of the time. But he got some good crosses into the box that only give hope for more in the Spain game. He needs to.
Glenn Whelan 5/10
Except terrorizing his chewing gum to death I haven’t seen much from him. He simply isn’t strong enough in physics and passing to lead the midfield. He has a good shot but also this I was missing.
Keith Andrews 7/10
He was the only Irish player I could watch without pain. He had some good shots on (and unfortunately also off) target and brought some momentum to the Irish game.
Aiden McGeady 4/10
It seems that he needs a Roy Keane rant before every game because after Roy made his (bad and right) feelings about him public he felt that he needs to prove Roy wrong. But: an exception doesn’t make the rule. It’s the opposite way and someone needs to tell McGeady. He may be fast and full of tricks but the least that’s interested is the corner flag so he needs to avoid it and start running towards goal when he wants to stay in the squad.
Robbie Keane 5/10
The foul on him had to be a penalty but his arguing and moaning while he was still flying is just ridiculous and didn’t help his cause. When he would spare his energy not for moaning all the time but creating chances he would probably cheer the Irish supporters up as he promised before the game.
Kevin Doyle 4/10
To be honest, I haven’t seen him doing anything in this game. So, infact he was exactly doing what he had done for Wolves last season.
Jon Walters (53 for Doyle) 7/10
Had some good chances but needed to get at least one goal out of it. But compared to Doyle very much more lively and willing to get something out of this game.
Simon Cox (54 for McGeady) 6/10
Was subbed in to play McGeady’s part which is not his normal position but apart from that he did quite well. At least everything is better than just ran to the corner flag.
Shane Long (75 for Keane) 6/10
I was really surprised that Trapattoni recognized that Robbie Keane was useless and finally subbed him. But Shane Long hadn’t that much time left to make an impact. Some players indeed can make an impact within 15 minutes but as a striker you need service for that and it hardly came.
It was Trapattoni’s all-over fault to make it clear to everyone that he hasn’t got a plan B in the sack (only a cat and that was useless). And worse enough: he really doesn’t have one. That unfortunately isn’t a bluff. You need fit and hungry players for a game like this and you can’t play the same formation against any other opponent.
So, as Shay Given clearly isn’t fit I’d take Keiren Westwood in goal and I wouldn’t mind his inexperience in the Irish goal. He is young, he is good and (most important) he is fit. Then we have Aiden McGeady. As it is unlikely that Roy Keane would give him another rant I foresee another game to forget against Spain which means I beg Trapattoni that he starts James McClean wide left. This boy is full of power and hunger and (most important) not well known to everyone.
And my last advice goes to the strike force: Kevin Doyle and Robbie Keane need to warm the bench. They clearly passed their zenith years ago. They aren’t fast enough any more and it appears that they can only moan here and then. I’d start with Walters and Cox up front so they can bring back power and energy.
PS. I’d really like so put Stephen Ward on the bench, too. I heard that Kevin Kilbane (now working for the BBC Radio 5 team) has taken his football boots to Poland…