Ireland’s latest defeat to Germany was one that we all expected. I’m sure the FAI and Noel King expected it. During the game it looked like some of the players knew it too. I know it was only 3-0, but there were times when Germany looked like they were strolling through the game. Effortless little chipped passes to each other like you would see in a training game. Ireland’s isolated pressing didn’t really help. Our inability to make more than five progressive passes is a worry. Our transition at times looked woeful. Anyway, it was a result we expected.
The team selection was a worry however. We don’t have the fortune of world class players playing in the top leagues like the Germans. But we do have a lot of young, hungry and in-form players playing in England. We are waiting on a new manager. The new manager will surely have his own ideas on how we should play and who should be picked. But besides the point that Wes Hoolahan should start every single game, we need to cast our net out further and deeper for players. We are not going to Rio and now is the perfect chance to try new players. We seem to have the same pool of players every game. We are picking players who rarely start for their club and other players on their past reputation.
Let’s take Kevin Doyle for starters. If you are picked to play for your country then of course you say yes. He doesn’t pick himself. But my gripe is that if we are going to pick a player from League One, then we must look at other players playing in the same division. Put it this way, David Mooney is playing up front for unbeaten Leyton Orient. The former Shamrock Rovers player has played 13 games this season, has 9 goals and was awarded League One Player of the Month for September. Doyle has played eight games and has two goals. Surely if you are going to pick an Irish striker from League One you would pick the top scorer who is on form no? Strikers are there to score goals. Mooney has played more games and after his recent award and playing in an undefeated team, his confidence will be sky-high. Unlike Doyle, who has been relegated twice, only played eight times this year and was denied a dream move to Celtic this summer. Surely his confidence is at an all-time low and as the saying goes, strikers need confidence. Mooney is in full flow yet not even a mention for a call up.
Next up is Stephen Kelly. The Reading full back has played four times this year. He is right footed yet he was still chosen to play left back against Germany. In those four games for Reading he has scored no goals. Since signing for Spurs back in 2002, Kelly was made a moderate 263 appearances in 11 years, scoring just two goals. Shauny Williams of MK Dons on the other hand, has played 16 games for his club this season and scored four goals from centre back. He has a cultured left foot and is a huge threat from dead ball situations. His manager at MK Dons, Karl Robinson, ensures his team can play the ball out from the back and are comfortable in possession. Williams possess the calmness and finesse much needed in the Ireland defence at the moment. Set plays are a huge part of the game now and you just need to see his recent free kick to see how good he is. Surely he should be given a call up and played at left back or one of a three man defence.
Paul Green and Jeff Hendrick are others. In fairness to Green, he played well against Austria last time out. The job that he does on the field is a thankless one. But we have players already who sit and break up the play. We have Whelan and Gibson. Hendrick has played five times this season for Derby and no goals. Yet Alan McCormack, who has started 10 times this season and is the former Swindon captain under Di Canio, is a regular starter for promotion hunting Brentford. He was named Swindon player of the year in 2011-2012 season and also won the League Two title with them the same year. Stephen Gleeson and Darren Potter both named in last year’s PFA League One Team of the Year, have been in outstanding form as a midfield duo for MK Dons this season. Surely McCormack, Gleeson and Potter all deserve a call up to the next squad.
There is no personal agenda here. I have nothing against the players mentioned. My issue is that we have a lot of players playing in other teams who never get a mention despite their form. Young players who are eager to play for their country but are sick of seeing the same players called up time after time. Ireland seem to play the same players and same formation game after game. Why not try something different? Why not bring in these hungry players, who are playing well, and freshen up the group? It will keep senior players on their toes and it will also give hope to other prospective players that if they play well and are in form, they too might get a call up. The more good players you have to select is a great headache to have. If you continue to pick the same eighteen players each time, things will become stale. If we are picking Kevin Doyle who is not scoring or starting in League One, then we MUST look at the players I have mentioned. I’m sure I’ve left out a few other names that have been preforming well in other leagues and teams. These players also deserve a chance. In my previous blog, England are bad but Ireland are worse, I mentioned the current cloud that hangs over the future of the Irish team. That cloud will only get darker if we don’t bring in new hungry faces to brighten the place up. We need to give hope to Irish players. We need to be proud of our players in any league they play in and if they are working hard and playing well, then they need to be given a chance. If we find they are out of their depth, then fine, then at least we know. At least we can say we tried and we are on the lookout for players to help the cause.
Tonight we face Kazakhstan in the Aviva Stadium or as my nanny calls it the “Visa Stadium”. Hoolahan has got to start. The lad can play. He can pick a pass and he is an attacking threat. Everyone in Ireland knows he has to start. This game would have been perfect to give the lads like Williams, Mooney and McCormack a game. To see how the play and mix with the group. A win is a must tonight. And we should be able to pass it around with ease and build up some much needed confidence. Whoever is named as the new manager, I hope he looks around. A key objective for the new manager must be to find more players to choose from. That has to be a must. We complained about Trap not looking at players and picking the same ones. Here is our chance to make it happen. I hope he gives these lads a chance. Our footballing future could very well depend on it.