For Better Or Worse, The Evan Ferguson Hype Train Has Left The Station

For Better Or Worse, The Evan Ferguson Hype Train Has Left The Station

Gary Connaughton By Gary Connaughton

Gary Connaughton reporting from the Aviva Stadium

All logic suggests that it is wise to temper expectations when it comes to a young player that is only beginning to make their way in the game.

Regardless of how talented a footballer may be, there are countless obstacles that can stop them from reaching their potential. Be it injuries, a lack of development, the wrong club situation, or off-field issues, there are no shortage of bumps along the road that can stop a footballer from becoming what many expect them to be. As a result, we need to be careful not to put too much pressure on any prospect's shoulders.

Of course, logic is rarely applied in the world of professional football.

Before a ball had even been kicked at the Aviva last night, there was a budding sense that we were about to witness the birth of the Evan Ferguson era of Irish football. By the time the game had finished, some felt there was no doubt that we had just sat through the arrival of the star that we had all been waiting for.

Those are two extreme views, but they are ones that are being held. Everyone knows better, they are aware of what such pressure can do to a youngster.

In this case, the horse has already bolted.


Evan Ferguson's first start for Ireland was always going to garner a sizeable amount of attention. He has been viewed as a top prospect ever since he made his debut for Bohemians in a friendly against Chelsea as a 14-year old back in 2019. He has steadily developed since then, although his form for Brighton in recent months has vaulted him firmly into the focus of Ireland fans.

By the time the Latvia game rolled around, the hype machine had already kicked into overdrive.

It's probably not an exaggeration to say that some of the 40,000 or so in attendance at the game only decided to show up as a result of the news that the 18-year old would be in the starting lineup. For those in the ground, it was difficult not to notice the sense of anticipation that went around everything that involved the Bettystown native.


The first event of note took place during the customary pre-match pageantry. Before every game at the Aviva, a lights show is carried out as the stadium announcer reads out the Ireland team on a name by name basis, with each one being greeted by a cheer from the home supporters.

There are no prizes for guessing which named garnered the largest response on this occasion. It was that of Ferguson, whose only previous appearance in the stadium was a stoppage time cameo against Norway back in November.

For the player himself, even as someone who has taken everything that has accompanied his recent meteoric rise in his stride, there was a sense of nerves about his early contributions in the game. His first couple of touches came via layoffs to his teammates, neither of which found their targets.


On the first occasion that he received possession in a promising area, there were inevitable cries of 'shoot' from the stands. The striker obliged, with his effort going well over the bar. Stephen Kenny, while encouraging the youngster in the process, shouted onto the pitch to remind him to keep his head in such situations and use his teammates.


In saying that, when a couple of incidents such as that are the only blots you can identify for an 18-year old making their first start in international football, it points to the quality of the player in question.

Ferguson played a part in Ireland's first goal, picking up the ball from deep and galloping into the open space in front of him before playing a pass out wide. While it was only a small contribution, there was a sense of electricity in the air as it unfolded.


His goal was a bit different. The buildup was a bit scrappy, meaning there wasn't necessarily a building sense of anticipation that he was about to net his first senior international goal.

Perhaps fittingly for someone who has burst onto the scene in such a dramatic fashion, he would pop up in the box unexpectedly to steer home the pullback from Michael Obafemi. The reaction inside the stadium tells you everything you need to know about what the Ireland supporters already think of Evan Ferguson.

While it is often the case that teenagers usually stand out on a pitch full of international players in terms of their physique, Evan Ferguson is different. If you did seen him play in this game without any sort of context as to who he was, there is no way you would know that he only turned 18 back in October. His physicality is eye-catching, regularly shrugging off much older defenders with relative ease.


There is no doubt that this has helped with his transition to Premier League and international football. Perhaps it has also allowed fans to simply forget just how young and inexperienced he is at those levels.

This game certainly would have done little to halt what are ever growing expectations surrounding his future in green. For one, Stephen Kenny is being very careful not to task too much too soon from his budding young star.

It's never straight forward. Injuries can take their toll on young players, demands are high in the league they're in and sometimes that happens...

For Evan, it's his first start and he got a goal. He's only 18, you can't predict things in the future. He is still learning the game and took everything in his stride...

We can't say that everyone is going to go through the roof. That's the reality of the game and the demands on players.


As Kenny mentioned, injury luck will always play a part in the development of the player. For all of the hard work that goes into improving their game, careers can be derailed by health issues.

The same can be said when it comes to the mentality of the person involved.

Over the years, there have been countless examples of players losing their way after been given too much too soon. For those not mature enough to look at the bigger picture, that can have negative consequences. They may feel that they have already made it and take their foot off the gas. If that is the case, it will not be long before their peers surpass them and they are left behind.

You wouldn't expect Evan Ferguson to go in that direction. Everyone that has worked with him, be it coaches or teammates, have suggested that he has a very good head on his shoulders. Knowing what we do, it seems that he possesses the right mentality to ensure that he will not fall into the same traps that so many before him have fallen victim to. His comments to RTÉ after last night's game bode well in that regard.

It's all just talk isn't it at the end of the day? People are getting excited and stuff, but it doesn't really bother me.

At the end of the day, it's just a game of football.

That attitude will carry him a long way.

While Evan Ferguson himself may not be getting carried away, it's difficult to say the same about the Irish footballing public. That is completely understandable when you look at what the player has done up to this point.

Let's just be careful not to completely lose the run of ourselves.

SEE ALSO: Ireland Player Ratings As Chiedozie Ogbene Goal Spares Team's Blushes Against Latvia


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