Friday 23 March 2018

Steven Reid: Lack of emerging talent points to more dark days

'I can't see things improving, no matter who takes over'

Steven Reid pictured with Robbie Keane when he was a member of the Irish squad
Steven Reid pictured with Robbie Keane when he was a member of the Irish squad
Steven Reid

Steven Reid

THE DUST has settled on Friday's night's disaster and, although there is a game to be won in Vienna tonight, the discussion around the Ireland team has moved towards the future.

I'd love to be optimistic about life after Giovanni Trapattoni, but no matter which way I look at it, I can't see things improving, no matter who takes over.

Barring a miracle, Ireland won't be at Brazil 2014, and watching other teams compete in the big tournaments may be something we'll have to get used to because it is hard to identify where the next star is coming from to replace the likes of Robbie Keane and Richard Dunne, who could both be retiring after this campaign.

It looks like the end for Trapattoni and his limited game plan, but while a new manager can try to get the best out of the players that are available, he will have to deal with the limitations of those available to him.

As much as we would like Ireland to go out and play 'total football', you need the players to be able to do that. Where are they going to come from?

Admittedly, for the first 15 minutes against Sweden, we played really well. The visitors didn't really get out of their half until Robbie scored – we looked great and we kept the ball.

On the whole, the players are Premier League standard, they should be comfortable on the ball, but times have changed now. You need to be more than just comfortable on the ball and Trapattoni's rigid 4-4-2 is outdated. A new manager will probably look to do that. Sweden figured it out easily.

The job looks like it will be up for grabs soon, but if the FAI want to go and get the best, they will have to pay for it. The top managers come with top price tags and as the clubs get richer, it is harder to lure them away.

Whether the FAI will be able to go to the same level of pay as they did with Trapattoni remains to be seen, but top managers cost around £2-3m a year and it will be a real struggle to get a quality man for much less.

Mick McCarthy is one of the favourites, but he has a job with Ipswich, one he is fully focused on. Will he come back? Who knows?

The new man will have to work with the FAI to try and identify new talent, but as the Premier League has grown bigger and the money surrounding the game in England has increased, it has been harder and harder for British and Irish players to make the step up.

When I was at the youth team at Millwall, there were so many young Irish players coming over to do their Youth Training Scheme, but that doesn't seem to happen anymore.

I was lucky when I came through. I had Tim Cahill, Paul Ifill and Richie Sadlier alongside me, while Mark Kennedy had made the breakthrough just before us.

We were given our chance and took it, but nowadays when it comes to giving young British or Irish players a chance, the managers are unwilling to gamble given the pressure for results. Time is not on players' side.

Niall Quinn has argued that an academy needs to be developed for Irish players, but the resources are not there to replicate what England have built at St George's Park.

It is not just about bricks and mortar, and the coaching can be improved. Quite a lot of the current and recently retired professionals are doing their badges, and involving them could be a way forward. Bringing these experienced players over to help improve young players' skills and equipping them for the step up into English football could help them when they make their moves.

For now, we will have to plough ahead with what we have got. James McCarthy can kick on after his big move to Everton and Seamus Coleman has secured the right-back position for the foreseeable future.

They will play a key role tonight in Vienna, where Anthony Pilkington has a real opportunity to stake a claim for Damien Duff's jersey.

Since Duffer retired, a succession of players have been tried on the left wing with nobody making the No 11 jersey their own. Robbie Brady will be disappointed again, but after a good last 12 months at Norwich, I am looking forward to seeing how Pilkington does. He is great with both feet and good in the air. It's important he makes it into the box as much as possible.

Still, it is difficult to see how we can win. We are not creative enough and, apart from Robbie, it hard to see where goals are going to come from.

Trapattoni will be hoping to keep it tight and defensive and hit Austria on the break. The away record has been good under the Italian, but after a difficult few days, the players will need a serious improvement to keep their faint hopes alive.

Indo Sport

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