Tensions between the media and the manager had an adverse effect on our approach to the Swiss game.
Brian Kerr is a decent man who’s done a lot for Irish football from the grassroots up, but to say the only reason that Ireland didn’t make the play-offs is Thierry Henry scoring his wondergoal at Lansdowne is preposterous.
On far too many occasions we under-performed and threw away points when it looked like they were in the bag.
There was a real Gerard Houllier-style air of paranoia about Brian in the run-up to the two games. What you don’t do during the biggest week of your career is start engaging in a public slanging match with an ex-player.
So what if Liam Brady criticised him on the telly? Having a go back and referring to Liam’s less than successful time at Celtic showed that mentally he wasn’t in the right place, and that would have conveyed itself to the players, who seemed just as jittery as their manager.
All you’re doing reacting to pundits like that is putting yourself and the team under more pressure.
As poor as the performance was, we won against Cyprus and should have treated the Swiss game as a Cup Final.
I’m not being facetious, but I honestly don’t know what his tactics were on Wednesday night. Switzerland are not a good football team, and even if they were, our three previous meetings with them should have taught us how to deal with them.
Instead of getting progressively better, we’ve got progressively worse against the Swiss, who were only prevented from scoring two or three by Shay Given.
In my day, it used to be that players performed better for their country than their club, but now it’s the other way around, which suggests that they weren’t being motivated properly.
To be even-handed about it, it probably didn’t help that Matt Holland, Robbie Keane, Ian Harte, Stephen Finnan, John O’Shea and Andy Reid haven’t played enough football this season, and Everton and Newcastle’s respective poor form has impacted disastrously on Kevin Kilbane and Stephen Carr. You’d still expect them to turn in a more spirited performance than the one they did against Switzerland, which was substandard in virtually every department. When players look demoralised walking out the tunnel you know you’re in for a rough ride, and boy did we get it!
I know he wasn’t playing well, but I’d have kept Robbie Keane on because he’s capable of producing a moment of magic. I didn’t understand why Harte and O’Shea came in when Ireland won three-days earlier with Graham Kavanagh in midfield. That indicates indecisiveness on the manager’s part, which can very easily transfer to the players.
I’d also have opted for Stephen Elliott ahead of Clinton Morrison who doesn’t seem to be able to grasp that you can’t back into players like that in international football. Combined with the number of times he gets caught offside, he can be terribly frustrating. Whatever about starting with him, I’d definitely have taken Clinton off at half-time.
I felt incredibly sorry for Shay Given who looked more angry than upset at the end of the game. The only reason we were still in with a shout of qualification was the consistency of his performances. The fact that your star player is the goalkeeper says it all really.
If we’d started the campaign poorly and improved along the way there’d be a case for sticking with Brian for the European qualifiers, but given that the reverse is true the FAI have no option but to let him go.
It’s actually a good time for someone new to come in because, unlike when Mick took over from Jack, you’re not going to be continuously compared to the previous fella.
This supposed “dream ticket” of Alex Ferguson and Roy Keane is a complete non-starter. There’s only one country that Alex is going to manage and that’s Scotland.
Philippe Troussier and, if Australia lose to Uruguay in the play-offs, Gus Hiddink are possibilities. But I’d prefer to see the job going to somebody who has first-hand knowledge of Irish football from the Eircom League up.
I think there’s talent at clubs like Cork City and Shelbourne that could be developed by the right manager.
Martin O’Neill’s the guy I’d like to see take-over, but my sources suggest that even if the FAI break the bank he’s only interested at the moment in club management.
David O’Leary ruled himself out before we’d failed to qualify, which is typical of him. Bottom line is he’s being paid too much money at Villa to want the Ireland job at this stage.
Given how well Klinsmann and Van Basten have done with Germany and Holland, I’d give serious consideration to Kevin Moran who’s a shrewd customer and wouldn’t have a problem motivating the players. Ronnie Whelan’s another person who’d slot straight in there and you wouldn’t rule John Aldridge out given what he did on extremely limited resources at Tranmere.
Even if we have gone down in the seedings, we’ve enough quality in the squad to qualify for Euro 2008 and put this extremely disappointing World Cup campaign behind us.
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