Russia Calling – Where To Now
So after two extremely disappointing results for the Republic of Ireland against Georgia 1-1 and a 1-0 defeat at home to Serbia, these two results have left Ireland’s slim qualifying chances for Russia 2018 hanging by a thread. Since the defeat on Tuesday evening and in particular the manner of the 1 all draw in Georgia these two games has people up in arms about the nation’s chances of making it to Russia 2018.
Just like 12 months ago, I sit here seeing the same issues, an over reliance on 35 year old Wes Hoolahan and his undoubted quality in possession. One of Ireland’s main issues has to be that you do need a striker in form and scoring goals and at this current moment Martin O Neill refuses to pick a striker who has been doing just that ala Sean Maguire or Scott Hogan.
Why did O Neill pick Maguire as soon as he touched down in England but he refused to do the same while he was on the books of Cork City choosing instead to maintain he would not be ready to make the step up yet after less than 10 games in the Championship in England he secured a call up. Although he didn’t make the cut this time in the near future he will get a 1st cap.
This is one thing that O Neill will need to try and solve before the final two qualifiers next month against Moldova and Wales. Even with two wins Ireland may still not have enough points to secure a playoff spot. FIFA yesterday confirmed that the play off will be a seeded draw based on World ranking. Even if Ireland did manage to secure a playoff spot there no guarantee that they would make it through.
The issues that face Ireland are far reaching issues , the FAI need to decide like the IRFU with the Women’s team what direction they want their senior team to go in. The squad is ageing and there isn’t any young talent being brought in from the under 21 set up or any other underage set up. This is going to get harder to watch if the rot is not stopped in the near future.
The game is in trouble as the League Of Ireland is forgotten about and all our talent takes it chances in England and most of them end up in the Championship or playing at a lower level again.
When our national team had players playing in the Premier League you saw what was achieved even though some of those talented players were playing in a system very similar to the one employed by Martin O Neill in Georgia last Saturday.
He played something similar to stone age football last weekend, also he has come out complaining that he doesn’t have a player like a “27 year old Robbie Keane” in his squad that will score the chances that are created, he actually has an in form striker that has been scoring regularly in the last 12 months, Sean Maguire has scored 20+ goals for both Cork City and he has continued that form with Preston North End.
As I say , the trouble that Ireland have had in the past 10 days is only highlighted during the International window and needs urgent attention from the people at the top of the game if they are going to try and solve these issues.
John Delaney and the people at the very top of the FAI need to get together at the conclusion of these World Cup qualifiers and hold some sort of get together where ex players , coaches and anyone else interested in the future of Irish football get the opportunity to discuss the burning issues that need solving.
Irish football hasn’t moved very far in the 12 months since a 1 all draw with Serbia where a late Daryl Murphy headed goal secured a point away from home. Luck may have run out in the quest to get the 2018 World Cup although those chances aren’t completely gone.
We need to look to the future now and try and implement changes that will benefit Irish football beyond 2018….
Cian Mc Gibney