Saturday 21 April 2018

Billy Bingham: Big Jack needs to drop John Aldridge and Kevin Moran against Egypt

Republic of Ireland striker John Aldridge
Republic of Ireland striker John Aldridge

Jack Charlton should have dispensed with the services of John Aldridge when selecting his team for today's crucial Group F game against Egypt in Palermo — if Ireland hoped to play the type of game required to survive in Italia '90.

Aldridge, great player and servant to Ireland that he is (and will continue to be in different circumstances), is just too much of an out-and-out striker to be really effective during this particular championship.

Playing him up front loosens up the midfield and that, I think, is not the way to play out here. Aldridge does not get back as deep or as often as is necessary for Ireland to function effectively against the world's elite.

And Charlton, I think, more or less acknowledged this when he took John off late in the England game and sent Alan McLoughlin on. A midfield player who can not only go forward but is also able to defend, is much better for Ireland's style of play than an attacker who has difficulty in dropping back, let alone helping out in defence.

Keeping Aldridge up front is, quite simply, a luxury that I just don't think Ireland can afford.

I would also have preferred to see David O'Leary in for Kevin Moran. O'Leary is worth his place not only for his composure, but also for the fact that he has a lot more pace I am in favour of sticking by McCarthy.

As I remarked last week he is an inspirational type of player who can have a tremendous morale-boosting effect. Sure, he was caught cold for Gary Lineker's goal, but that was a bit like a boxer being tagged with a sucker punch in the first round.

I think everybody would have to agree that Mick's performance for the remaining 81 minutes was flawless.

I think the same can be said of Ireland's overall performance' as a team. Very little was given away at any stage during the game and in terms of possession the Irish had 53% and the English only 47% — and they are the official F.I.F.A. figures.

BOBBY Robson has done a lot of moaning and groaning since Monday, about what he called Ireland's "up and under", style of play, laying the blame for what was certainly a poor spectacle wholly on Charlton's men.

Robson said Ireland just wouldn't let his men play real football. What did he expect Charlton and the Irish players to do: stand back and let players like Barnes, Beardsley and Liheker run free?

England didn't play the way they envisaged simply because the Irish were stronger, so strong that, in a sense they even forced Robson's men to play the Charlton way. And they couldn't do it.

The game got a very bad press here in Italy, with-just about every paper in the country saying that it highlighted everything that is wrong with the British game. (I know Jack's team are the Republic, but with almost all their players coming from the English or Scottish leagues I think it is fair to categorise them, in the football sense, as exponents of the "British" style of play).

But, with two such teams meeting on a greasy pitch on a night when the rain was bucketing down, I think it was always going to be that kind of game — and I also feel certain that future games in the group will be different.

Against Egypt this afternoon, for instance, I'm sure we'll see a more positive type of match. Ireland are likely to play a more open brand of football from now on in the tournament because they'll be coming up against teams that will be more inclined to stand back from them than the English.

Pace is going to be all important from here on in, especially when Charlton's men are up against teams such as Holland and tremendously skilful players like Ruud Gullit and Marco Van Basten. The Dutch — and other teams like Italy, .West Germany, Argentina (if they can realise their real potential) and Brazil — are likely to try to keep their distance from the Irish by hanging back and hoping to catch them out on the break.

Even the Egyptians will probably force Ireland into a less physical and more technical style of play. They are a typical Middle Eastern team in that they are good at playing possession football, they can frustrate opponents by keeping the ball for long periods and, as Scottish boss Andy Roxburgh can testify, they are a side that must be treated with the utmost respect.

Jack will have taken a long hard look at how best to tackle the Egyptians. The danger is that Ireland might be forced into playing the possession game themselves because the Egyptians are certain to give them greater freedom at the back.

Ireland are going to have to find a nice balance between retaining possession and playing their normal long ball game.

This, even more than either of the other two group games, is the one Ireland can't afford to lose. Jack Charlton is no doubt fully aware of just how crucial it is that he gets both his tactics and his team selection right.

Online Editors

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