Ireland’s highest profile foreign manager is unarguably Norwich City’s Chris Hughton. He watched as his side reflected Manchester City and Southampton in being a non mover in the Premier League table after today’s matches. Norwich haven’t turned many heads this season to date, but they haven’t fallen asunder either.
After a tight match, Hughton remarked, “We will look at the positives as it’s a clean sheet against a strong powerful West Ham side.”
What might fill him with more optimism for a first victory of the season would be the return from injury of Anthony Pilkington. The left winger’s industry was missed. Irish team-mate Was Hoolahan, who himself is returning from injury, frustratingly for him, didn’t make it off the substitutes bench.
Part of the strong West Ham side Hughton spoke about was Joey O’Brien. The 26 year old Dubliner who was weighed down with a litany of disruptive injuries at Bolton Wanderers is now a regular selection under Sam Allardyce. His form has been reflected in his recent call up to the Ireland set up. His call up for the friendly in Serbia was his first to an Irish squad in over four years.
Southampton’s non movement in comparison to Norwich is a little more depressing. Despite strong performances against both Manchester Clubs their tally of zero points was not improved upon after something of a spanking against an Arsenal side that Nigel Adkins described as “exhilarating.”
And after an exhilarating performance and goal of his own for Ireland’s U21s in a resounding victory over Italy in midweek, he may have hoped for an escape route from the Arsenal reserves. However this looks unlikely and a loan move in the current Championship loan window is one he should climb through.
Ciaran Clark placed an unfavourable couple of weeks in his past as he helped Aston Villa to a surprising victory over high flying Swansea City. Despite his recent red card and fairly public rejection by Giovanni Trapattoni he helped his side and fellow Irish man Stephen Ireland to a 2-0 home victory. Unfortunately Shay Given’s loss of form has seen him remain understudy for the second match in a row to USA international Brad Guzan.
Damien Duff’s strong start to the season continued as he played his part in Fulham’s 3-0 victory over a West Brom side that saw Shane Long substituted at half time.
Dimitar Berbatov showed he still had life left in him to score a first half double. Duff also had two chances to join the Bulgarian on the score sheet only to be denied by Ben Foster.
Stephen Kelly yet again lost out to FC Köln loanee Sascha Riether at right back. Despite signing a new contract recently, Kelly must be frustrated to be second choice to the German who has two international caps in comparison to Kelly’s thirty two.
It was a good week though for the Dubliner who was visibly pleased to be handed the captains armband by Kevin Doyle in Irelands nonchalant victory over Oman at his home ground.
Manchester United comfortably beat Wigan 4-0 but Robbie Brady was unsurprisingly, despite his international midweek performance, not involved in the Manchester United squad. Despite some involvement and promising signs on Uniteds pre season ramblings he is similar to Henderson in needing a loan move presently and pressingly.
His midfield partner on Tuesday night, James McCarthy, was central to Wigan’s pre match plans but secondary to an overpowering United midfield.
Marc Wilson, Glen Whelan and Jonathon Walters all started and finished against Manchester City at home. The Irish trio are mainstays so far this season for the Potters, a season that has seen four games played and four draws. Stoke need to look back to their seventh last game of the 2011/12 season to recall their last victory. But they are Ireland’s strongest Premiership club in terms of players starting.
If Keiren Westwood and David Meyler could break in to the first team at Sunderland they could reflect Stoke’s numbers. However they again sat out the full ninety minutes in the entertaining 1-1 draw with Liverpool this afternoon. James McClean starting as expected, after an impressive substitute appearance in London on Tuesday evening.
With such Irish heritage at Liverpool throughout the years it would be palatable to see an Irish face in the set up. However you need to look beyond the Liverpool first team and even the reserves to find your first Irishman. Two 16 year olds, Daniel Cleary and Alex O’Hanlon are the only player links. Both players though have been capped at Ireland Under 17 level. Two names to bear in mind for Russia 2018.
Chris McCann was the opening scorer in the Championship meeting of Burnley and Peterborough in an entertaining 5-2 victory. McCann is a product of Home Farm and the twenty five year old has been at Turf Moor for eight years. He might have gained more recognition in Burnley’s season in the Premiership but for two injuries to keep him unfortunately sidelined.
Simon Cox continued his decent scoring form for Nottingham Forest, scoring his third goal of the season as Forest came from 2-0 down to draw with Birmingham City. Cox scored with a fine lob over Jack Butland to commence the home sides comeback.
Ex-St. Pats midfielder Keith Fahey was a 79th minute Birmingham substitute for Leroy Lita.
In League 1, it was Birmingham City loanee Adam Rooney who helped Swindon Town to a 2-2 away draw away to Carlisle. While in League 2 John O’Flynn scored from six yards to salvage a point for Exeter City against League 2 new boys, York City.
In Scotland, ex-St. Patricks Athletic and Shelbourne striker and Inverness Caledonian Thistle captain Richie Foran gave the home side a 1-0 lead from the penalty spot in a game that finished 1-1. Meanwhile Jim Goodwin scored in St Mirren’s 2-0 victory over Hearts. The Waterford born striker who has one Irish cap to his name, aiding his club to rise to third in the Scottish Premier League.
Pat Fenlon has rewarded the faith invested in him by now second placed side Hibernian. A 2-1 home win over Kilmarknock has seen him take last years strugglers to the tables summit, three points ahead of Celtic and five points ahead of city rivals Hearts.
Finally, further a field, Aiden McGeady and Robbie Keane both scored for Spartak Moscow and LA Galaxy respectively. Spartak Moscow were ultimately held 2-2 away to Kuban Krasnodar in the Russian Premier League whilst LA Galaxy went on to win 2-0 at home to Colorado Rapids in the MLS.
Both duly reminded Trapattoni of their respective abilities ahead of Germany’s crucial visit to Lansdowne Road on October 12th.