Much was said after the game, much was discussed. But unfortunately nothing about the low and poor performance of the Irish team but the great support of the fans and after Roy Keane in the ITV studio in Warsaw made his annoyance about it clear anyone felt that also his opinion was needed for making Roy Ireland’s villain number one again 10 years after Saipan. I felt that every so-called anti-Roy-journalist in the country (namely the Irish Independent folk) all of a sudden rummaged their old biased articles from the drawer.
“I’m disappointed. Ireland never turned up. It’s a reality check for a lot of the Irish players. I think a lot of them think they’re top players, and it goes to show that they’re so far behind. [and after Keith Andrews only praised the supporters] “I think the players and even the supporters, they all have to change their mentality, it’s just nonsense from players speaking after the games about how great the supporters are. Listen, the supporters want to see the team doing a lot better and not giving daft goals away like that. I’m not too happy with all that nonsense. We’re a small country, we’re up against it, but let’s not just go along for the sing-song every now and again.”
How some certain journalists can make of it an onslaught to Irish supporters I just don’t understand. That’s just rubbish given Roy said that the fans deserved more. What he basically said was that the players shouldn’t do the simplest of things with hiding behind such statements praising the great support when they should pick their own noses saying that they themselves were rubbish. That Roy wants a change in mentality also from the supporters only meant that the players after such a game won’t feel the necessity to praise these great supporters.
Sometimes it doesn’t help just to cheer the boys on to out-sing the opponent fans. Sometimes it’s more useful to boo your team when they are simply not good enough. When I was still playing we hadn’t much supporters on the sidelines because we played in a very low league but certainly they were screaming mostly of anger. That always inspired me because I wanted to show them grumpy old men that they are wrong with their opinion. Looking back these cheers were good for me, they were more helpful than a great sing-song probably would have been.
Watching the Spain game was very painful. Spain looked good without a shadow of a doubt but Ireland simply let them play. Until the 16-yard-box the Spanish were practising their passing game and in the end with 892 passes they did the most ever counted for a side in European Championships. But I tend to believe that exactly this was Trapattoni’s game plan: that “parking bus” just before the penalty area to make it tight and unpossible for the Spaniards to get anything on target. But that simply didn’t work because the Irish players lacked mobility and pace to even able to follow their opponents.
On several occasions Stephen Ward (who seemed to have played a third centre back to give Spain all their space on the left hand side) was just too slow but alarming that he also on many times just looked and admired the Spanish forwads how they passed the ball around him. On the other side (on the few occasions when Ireland indeed discovered the Spanish half of the pitch) he had several chances to get a cross into the Spanish box but he simply couldn’t. Every try was instantly blocked.
At times the Irish mobility and movement was lesser than from West Germany and Austria in the well-known cheated WC group game in Gijón 1982. And the most painful about this comparison is that West Germany and Austria did meant it at this time.
I’m sure Ireland wanted to play and they wanted to get a result. As I said it was Trapattoni’s game plan to wait for them and to defend for their lifes. But this plan could have been thrown out of the window in the forth minute when Torres made his first goal. What was shocking at this goal wasn’t that Richard Dunne needed ages to stand up after his initial good but short clearance but the way Stephen Ward didn’t react to it at all. He needed to help Richard, go for the ball but he was just standing there watching.
From now on the only question was with how many goals Spain would win because Trapattoni never has any intention to give up his (only) game plan. And with all the passing practise the Spanish players were given by the Irish it was a surprise really that it was just 1-0 at half-time. That it was about to be even worse I didn’t want to think of with the beginning of the second half. But it was. The way the Irish conceded these three goals was like the Spanish team playing against the U15 squad of Ipswich Town.
But the Irish weren’t just unable to compete but also looked tired. It was said before the tournament that they should have fun, that they should enjoy their games. But all I could see were tired players pressed in a concept that don’t suit them. Trapattoni four years ago came with a plan and put players he only knows from DVDs into it. This is the plan of an old manager. A manager who wants to get the best out of his players has to watch them right from the stands. Then he knows what they are best in, let them play positions they are used to.
But this simply isn’t Trapattoni’s way. He was criticized for his intensive 3-week-training and in the end these critics seem to be right at last. How can you have fun during the tournament when your manager basically killed you just before? Then again all he was continuously saying was that Ireland could do what Chelsea did in the Champions League. Yes, Chelsea indeed defended most of the time but you have to look on the names of their players and then compare them with the Irish players. There is no real comparison.
Now we have only the Italy game left and when someone still had hopes before the Spain game there is nothing left for this one. We are out of this competition, we had two games to forget, the players looked flat and obviously hadn’t too much fun. At least that’s also a good sign because they weren’t there for the fun but to try to achieve something.
Much was talked before the tournament about the chances that Ireland would have coming to the quarters, reaching the final even. Not few had high hopes but now reality hit back. What’s left is a furious Roy Keane, fun having supporters and tired players. All the talk is about Roy Keane and not about the team’s performance. It’s just like 2002. Welcome to Ireland!
PS. Watch Keith Andrews’ interview and Roy Keane’s reaction in the video below:
PPS. In the picture above you can see the making of Spain’s second goal scored by David Silva and you can ask yourself the question what Stephen Ward, Sean St Ledger and Richard Dunne were doing there.