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The slide in Irish international soccer

category national | miscellaneous | opinion/analysis author Thursday October 13, 2011 23:30author by Jim Travers Report this post to the editors

Things just don't look good for the National Team as ten-man Armenia tried their best to make the biggest upset for Irish football. Ireland just about scraped a win that gave the team a place in the play-off for Euro 2012. Whoever we get in the play-off one thing is absolutely certain, based on the last four or five performances it would be advisable for the hard line football fans to carry boxes of paper tissues, for the tears shed on the night of utter destruction will be a night not forgotten for a very long time.

Irrespective of who we get in the play-offs one thing is certain, Trappatoni's team will be murdered if we base the republic's chances of qualification on past performances. Once again Richard Dunne's display of sheer quality and professionalism was the difference between winnng and loosing. As on many other occasions the republic's lack of drive to control the match was compounded by a lack of dicipline that seemed to take hold of the players when they were faced with an Armenian side that was not prepared to lie down and accept defeat when the ball found the net for the second goal. In reality, with ten men for the better part of the match, Armenia looked a team that should have got more out of the match and that included a victory. If Trap feels the team done well on the night, then its time for Trap to move on as he has nothing more to give that would help enhance the teams performance prior to the play-offs. With exception to the France game two years ago that seen Ireland play football that was just astounding, Trappatoni has not brought the team from being about average to just average. The team has not moved on from the days of McCarthy and Staunton. We have players who show great promise in the Premier League in England but in the national team play a League of Ireland style of football. Overall the performance was about average with spells of penetration into Armenian space confined to hit and run tactics that always ended in an Armenian counter attact on the break. If the fans thought they were in for a blitz on the Armenian goal then they were very disappointed and possibly worried when the Armenians showed real class for a team that was doing its best to mark its name on the world stage. For the first time I thought to myself " I think i'll get out of the stadium before the crowds start to move". There was just something that said the road has just about come to its end and there's nowhere left to go. The crowd tried its best to lift the team but like a corpse in a funeral parlour the team just plodded on as usual. Funny, for the first time I thought that the players looked as if they felt relieved that the game was over and were leaving the stadium. Do you know, I think the magic the Irish team has with its supporters is beginning to disappear and will possibly fade with time. We sort of need another Jack Charlton to inject some hope and promise for the future. With just one slip the final score could have been so very different , thats how close the Armenians were from stealing a victory with just ten men. Kevin Doyle's unnecessary sending off was yet another example of a team that is reallly not gelling together and beginning to show signs of discontentment wwithin the ranks. It was stupid of Doyle to unnecesarily foul a player when he knew he was carrying a yellow card and had excluded himself from the play-off matches. Trappatoni was also found wanting, for as soon as Doyle got the first yellow card he should have replaced him immediately so as not to cause further instability should Doyle receive another card during the match and be sent off. All in all Trappatoni is showing sign of dispair with players he knows are not of a standard that he is accustomed to managing for the best results. The FAI went upmarket in appointing Trappatoni for the job and Trappatoni went downmarket when he accepted the job as manager, a job he knew he could not fulfill with players that were so different from his style of coaching and managing.

To me the main problem has always been with the FAI and its inability to appreciate the demands of professional football and football players. The FAI is alright when it comes to schoolboy football or even League of Ireland football, but overseeing aspects of professional football and football players is beyond the capabilities of the FAI. It is now time for a selection panel to be established that is seperate from the influence of the FAI and is made up of managers and footballers who play or played in the Premier league in England or other leagues around the world that hold the same standard of professionalism amongst its players and managers. The board would have the ultimate power to approach, interview and appoint a manager to the national team. The role of FAI would be to endorse that appointment. Having former and current professional managers and footballers on a selection panel would give players the confidence and ability to direct their thought and concerns to a manager they know was chosen by people who manage, play or have played at their own level of profesional football. The FAI is really in another league that belittles the professional standing of the national team. For the sake of the national team and the betterment of football in Ireland, it is about time the FAI took one step back from holding direct involvment in the national team. How can professional players give their utmost efforts to the national side when the governing body is made up of people who see football as an income and professional football players as the key to their continued incomes. Why should Robbie Keane or Damien Duff give everything they have to Ireland when their masters in the FAI are singing all the way to the bank on the sweat of their labours. Roy Keane and Stephen Ireland seen the real picture as a financial killing for those in FAI headquarters. We have heard all the calls in the past for patriotism from people who should show true patriotism but are found to be filling their own pockets on the back of those who answered the call. When FAI chiefs and their families flew in first class seating while the players sat in second class seating, the Irish public should have called a spade a spade and accused the FAI for what it really is, an organisation working from a fund that is secured from the sweat, commitment and passion of professional footballers. The proof of the pudding is in the eating and Ireland has clearly not moved on from the days of kicking the ball around just for fun. We have the players who can make a difference but the players lack something that gives them the desire to up and go. If the Aviva stadium was consistently filled with people who paid €100 to see a match would the FAI be worried if the players played good or bad? This I think is at the heart of the problem, the FAI see Irish football players in the Premier League as a source of income and income alone. Whe a player has to have a number written on his jersey with an ink felt pen because a replacment jersey was not available then one must ask ; Where has all the money gone and who is responsible for this oversight'?

If Ireland really wants to make a huge impact on the world football stage, then for the sake of the National team the FAI must step back and allow professional players determine their own destiny.

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