Football

We Just Don't Have The Players And We Need To Address Why

We Just Don't Have The Players And We Need To Address Why

 

In the early days of the Charlton Years, Jack decided the Irish team didn't need David O'Leary or Liam Brady in the team. Later, he would say the same about Ronnie Whelan.

It wasn't that we had better players to come in, but Jack had a system, and he could afford to sacrifice some great players. The point was though, he had the players to fill in. They played the system, but they were strong, competent footballers, playing at the highest level of club football.

Giovanni Trapattoni didn't fancy the Irish players. We hounded him for years about our style of play and about his lack of trust in his team. When we did play, we beat France in Paris (over 90 minutes).

That was our example. That was why we had to play better football.

Trap didn't believe in the Irish team, but he had Shay Given, John O'Shea, Richard Dunne, Damien Duff, and Robbie Keane.

Eight years on, we make the same argument about the Irish team, but a lot has changed.

Advertisement

Blame Martin O'Neill all you want for the calamity we witnessed at Lansdowne Road tonight. He panicked and that's an unforgivable trait for a manager. So yes, he takes the blame, but let's not imagine this was some kind of great opportunity to go to the World Cup. It wasn't.

We argue that our style of play doesn't get enough out of the players. But who are those players, really?

Ireland's best player had his leg broken by Neil Taylor. Beyond him, who have we got?

When Daryl Murphy was in his 20s, he wasn't anywhere near the Irish team. Now, he's 34, and our first choice striker. That says it all. This isn't to disparage the effort of the likes of Murphy, or any of the rest of the team, but we have to be realistic about the level of talent in this team.

James McClean, a true hero of this campaign, and always the heartbeat of this team, is a sub at West Brom. Again, not a criticism, he's probably Ireland's best fit player, but in the aforementioned eras, is he the most important player on the pitch?

Where is our Robbie Keane? Our Damien Duff? Our Paul McGrath?

Advertisement

Those players do not exist right now. Robbie Brady scored some important goals and took Robbie Keane's number 10 jersey, but what has he really contributed to be guaranteed his place as the main playmaker of this side? Is this good enough?

Ireland do not have players playing for Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea, Spurs, Arsenal. In the Premier League as a whole, there are six Irish players who can be sure of a place in the team week in, week out. Our players don't go anywhere else but England, so that is the barometer, unfortunately, and it's a shocking state of affairs.

Iceland and Northern Ireland are examples of what can be done with more. It's not an excuse for management, and there's no reason Ireland should have embarrassed themselves like they did tonight, but there's a bigger problem here.

Where are the players coming from? Where is the next generation? Tonight, we can criticise Martin O'Neill, and the players that were out there, but we need to start having a much bigger conversation? What is the future of Irish football and who is making those plans?

The World Cup dream is over. The present is grim. It's time for the FAI to talk about their plan for the future.

SEE ALSO: The Irish Player Ratings On A Devastating Night Vs Denmark

Michael McCarthy

You may also like