Thursday 18 January 2018

Something clearly wrong with communication between Ireland players and manager

Steven Reid

Steven Reid

THE Faroe Islands is not my idea of a fun place to visit, especially when you are an international team under pressure. I was there once, back in 2005 when Brian Kerr was manager.

If there's one thing worse than playing against the Faroes, it's sitting on the bench not being involved, and that was my fate on that occasion.

In saying that, I don't mean any disrespect to the Islands or its inhabitants. But seven years ago, we found it to be quite an unforgiving place in terms of the conditions and environment.

The pitch wasn't great, and it's a bleak place, with not much to do. The day after the match the Islands were fog-bound, so we couldn't get out as scheduled -- and that was in June!

All in all, a tough place to visit, and the only redeeming feature of the trip was that we won 2-0.

Ian Harte scored from a penalty and Kevin Kilbane got the other goal. Job done, and we were glad to get out of there with the right result.

In 2005, we needed to win after drawing at home against Israel four days previously, but the stakes are much higher now, particularly for the manager.

The pressure has been really ramped up after that horror show against Germany, and also by the stories suggesting that Stephen Kelly had to be talked into getting on the plane after a training-ground bust-up with Marco Tardelli.

My first reaction was surprise, not so much that there was any kind of argument, but more that Stephen Kelly could be involved in anything like that.

Players fall out with players and with staff all the time in football, but Stephen Kelly?

I know him pretty well. Stephen's a mild-mannered chap. It's hard to imagine him falling out with the coach, so he must have felt particularly aggrieved about whatever happened.

The fact a story like this gets out just goes to show that something's not right within the camp. It looks bad and it has added fuel to the fire and put more pressure on the manager and the squad going into the game.

I would be concerned that there is a recurring theme in all this.

Over the past few months the player reactions involving Kevin Foley, Darron Gibson, the 'he's injured, he's not' issue with Shane Long, and now the Kelly story are sending a message.

Something is clearly wrong with the communication between players and manager.

I don't feel there's much of a problem within the group of players vis-a-vis their own solidarity, but when in the past have you seen so many Irish players erupting in anger publicly and opting out of the squad?

Part of what makes playing for Ireland so great is the team spirit and the bond in the group, so I don't feel that's changed much.

Whether anything changes for the manager will very much depend on the result tonight. This is definitely a tougher mission after the Irish result and performance against Germany, and the way the Faroes played against Sweden.

The Swedes are top-class opposition, and for the Faroe Islands to hold them for so long is a credit to them. They clearly are a stronger force now than they were in 2005, so this is a huge game now.

Despite the firestorm raging around Trapattoni's management at the moment, I have to believe that the lads will come out of there with three points. We have the players, and, again, respect to the Faroe Islands, but it's unthinkable that the Irish team can drop points to them.

I don't believe there is any way the manager can do anything but set the team up in a more attacking formation than he did on Friday night.

This is one of those games where it's win or bust, so let's have a right go and show confidence in our own ability.

Harking back to the Oman game, Ireland started that in the right way, with Shane Long up front and the two wide men bombing forward at every opportunity.

It doesn't really matter what formation Trapattoni lines them out in at the start, they just have to go for the throat and go for the win in an attacking way.

In that respect, it's a positive move that Robbie Keane is back and Robbie Brady (left) gets in the side. I'm also pleased for Marc Wilson that he gets a chance to show what he can do.

I'm a big admirer of Shane Long who will be disappointed he didn't get a starting place, but Jon Walters grafted his socks off against the Germans and obviously the manager rewards him for that effort.

I'm also pleased Seamus Coleman's got another chance. Germany were tough opposition for a competitive debut. He was bright going forward, and if he was caught out a couple of times, it's up to other players to fill in those positions.

Seamus had a difficult time last season after bursting on the scene the year before, but he's had a good start this term and I hope we see more of him in the green jersey.

Fingers crossed for the win. Otherwise, I can't see how the FAI can avoid making a change in manager.

Irish Independent

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