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Bring back Connolly

More firepower is required if Ireland are to qualify for the World Cup, and Tony Cascarino knows who can provide it.

Tony Cascarino, 28 Sep 2005

Like the players, I thought Brian Kerr had a mixed night at Lansdowne against France.

I was pleased that he went with two up front because that was our best chance of getting a result, and disappointed that he brought on Gary Doherty who’s been a spectator this season at Norwich City.

What he should have done is move Duff, who wasn’t getting a kick on the wing against Willy Sagnol, up alongside Robbie Keane and avoided lumping the ball into the box in the vain hope that Gary would get his head to it.

As I said before the game, it’s ridiculous that Brian hasn’t made his peace with David Connolly who’s the only Irish striker more or less guaranteed a Premiership start every week. He has to get himself along to the JJB the next time Wigan are playing and sort whatever the difficulty between them is out.

Although he worked his socks off, you could tell from the way he mis-controlled the ball on a couple of occasions that Robbie is suffering as a result of only being on the fringes at Spurs. He still looked more of a threat, though, than Clinton Morrisson who game lad or not just doesn’t cut it at international level.

I felt we didn’t get enough change out of Boumsong who, as predicted, was absolutely terrible and got murdered afterwards by the French press.

Roy Keane being suspended makes the trip to Cyprus that little bit more daunting, but go 4-4-2 again and we’ll definitely create enough chances to win the game.

Slip up against Cyprus or Switzerland and inevitably there will be calls for Brian to go, which I suspect he’d do voluntarily if we don’t get to Germany.

The problem then, of course, is that there’s no natural successor. While I imagine the FAI would want more of a name manager, the money they’re prepared to pay isn’t going to lure anyone away from the Premiership or the SPL, which would suggest either a Championship manager or somebody who’s been out of the game for a while and looking to get their career back on track. Martin O’Neill has been touted by a few people, but from what I’ve been told he wants to go back into club football once he’s had his year off.

In the same way that Marco Van Basten and Jurgen Klinnsmann were fastracked into the Holland and Germany jobs, they might go for an ex-player like Kevin Moran who’s thrown his hat into the ring before.

Whoever gets the nod will have a much harder job than Brian did when he took over. Numbers-wise, the squad is very threadbare and will become even more so if, as looks likely, Roy Keane and Kenny Cunningham retire before the start of the next campaign. I looked at the bench against France and thought we were well short.

While we were going down 1-0 to the French, England got precisely what they deserved against Northern Ireland, which is nothing!

I’d love to ask Sven Goran Eriksson who chose to put Beckham where he was – him or David? Judging by the abuse Wayne Rooney flung at Beckham, I strongly suspect the latter. In the two games they’ve played the system, England have managed only one goal and that was against a bellow par Wales team.

Somebody with bigger balls than Sven would drop Beckham to the bench for the Austria game, and make John Terry captain. He’d also play Peter Crouch alongside Michael Owen to give them the physical presence they so patently lack at the moment.

That said, I still think they’ll qualify for the World Cup, get everybody excited by giving one big performance and then choke when it comes to playing a Brazil or an Italy. The only thing that’ll alter that is if Sven goes beforehand, which isn’t going to happen because it’ll cost the FA too much money.

Watching the Northern Ireland v England highlights reminded me of the time we went to Windsor Park in 1989 needing a point and got it thanks to Alan McLoughlin who also saved my bacon.

I was about to be brought on as a substitute when I realised I’d left my shirt in the dressing-room. I was all for grabbing David Kelly’s, but Jack said, “You stupid fucker, you’ll get us thrown out of the tournament!” Anyway, he was about to lamp me one when up popped Alan with his goal.

Finally, any chance of Arsenal reclaiming the Premiership went out the window when Henry was injured. I also think that Heinze being out for the rest of the campaign is going to have a seriously detrimental effect on Manchester United.

It’s not even October yet, and Chelsea have won the Premiership!

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