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Worse than Liectenstein

When San Marino played in Ireland, they were the worst team he’d ever seen. So there's no point in trying to dress-up a 2-1 win over them as a decent result.

Tony Cascarino, 27 Feb 2007

Living in England, I was lucky that they weren’t showing the San Marino game, so I didn’t have to suffer through it.

When I heard what had happened, I couldn’t believe it. I saw San Marino when they came to Lansdowne, and I think it’s no exaggeration to say they’re the worst international team I’ve ever seen in my life. People are comparing it to the Liechtenstein game in ’95, which I was involved in, but this was worse. Liechtenstein had one or two players making a living with decent clubs, San Marino haven’t even got that. The fact that Germany beat them 13-0 says it all; they’re a comedy act, not a football team.

Hopefully in a month’s time, it’ll have blown over. If we win the next two games, people will cheer up, but Stan is just one bad result away from the sack. There’s no excuse for what happened in San Marino, and the manager and the captain should have held their hands up and admitted it was unacceptable. Instead, you had Stan talking about how much “character” the team had shown, and Robbie saying “we would have settled for a 2-1 win before the match.” That’s hard to believe. If you stand up in front of the press and try to pass a result like that off as a decent performance, you deserve to be ridiculed.

We’ve now been battered by Cyprus, who are nothing, and shown up by San Marino. I played with Stan and still wish him all the best – but this can’t go on. I think he deserves a last chance. There’s no guarantee a change of manager would solve the problems. We’re still involved – and amazing things can happen in football.

As far as potential replacements go, you can forget about Roy Keane. He’s never got on with the FAI, and he'll want to see how much he can achieve in club management first. With the way things are going at Sunderland, the signs are promising. To be honest, I wouldn’t want him to take over a mediocre Irish team. I’d like to see what he can do when we’ve a good group of players.

The bookies’ favourite right now is Dave O’Leary, but that won’t happen either. Basically, no-one wants him. He upset too many people at Leeds and Villa – and he’ll find it very difficult to get his foot in the Premiership door again. He might have to take a Championship job: whether he’d want to, I don’t know. Either way, he wouldn’t be my choice for the Ireland job. I’m not his greatest fan.

Meanwhile, Craig Bellamy has got himself into trouble again with that ‘golf club’ incident. The thing about these scumbag incidents – whether it’s Joey Barton or Lee Bowyer – is that it only seems to happen with British players. Managers expect players to behave like mature adults, and so often, they get let down. In fairness, there’s not a lot the managers can do. If you tell players they’re allowed to go for a meal and a few beers, they’re responsible for their own actions. Bellamy has a previous history of doing stupid things, so this doesn’t surprise me.

As I’ve said, it’s a British thing. Rafa Benitez comes from a culture in Spain where he wouldn’t ever have to worry about that kind of thing. He’d know full well there would be no risk of his players acting like fools. But in England, you have to tell them not to, and they’ll still do it anyway. I’m sure Benitez will want rid of Bellamy now. I don’t see a future for him at the club.

On more mundane matters, the Cup games last weekend were generally very enjoyable. I’ve heard Wenger and Ferguson asking again for replays to be scrapped. Obviously that’s because it suits them, but I happen to agree. I don’t see any reason why the games shouldn’t be settled on extra-time and penalties. Fans will stay till the end, they’ll enjoy it, and they won’t have to spend a whole lot of money to travel for a replay.

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