Tuesday 20 February 2018

Steven Reid: Time is not right to sack manager -- this squad badly needs stability

THE big question now is: have the FAI the ruthlessness or the desire to dismiss Giovanni Trapattoni at this stage of the qualifying campaign?

In my view, it's a big risk to take that decision. We now have six points from the first three matches, and while obviously huge weight will be put on the poor performance against Germany, there is a long way to go before the next matches in March.

If you leave the manager in place, you have the advantage of stability, even though there has been some unrest in the squad.

The players have worked with the manager for a good while now and they know his system.

Confidence improves after a win, and we've seen young talent such as Marc Wilson, Robbie Brady and James McCarthy get a chance to show their potential.

Bring in a new man, who will have his own ideas, who will possibly fancy different players, maybe have a different way of setting up the team, and you could upset the apple cart completely.

We have a friendly against Greece next month, and beyond that the crucial games will be the two against Austria and two against Sweden in terms of our qualification chances.

There is still a very decent chance of going through from here. It would have been a different story if we hadn't got a win against the Faroes.

There are tougher tests ahead and no doubt the performances have to improve. I know the arguments are raging for and against Trapattoni remaining at his post, but from here there is a platform he can build on.

He only has a year to go on his contract, and I'll be intrigued to see what the FAI are going to do. They have some real soul-searching to do, and they are doing it in the middle of a huge storm of anti-Trapattoni sentiment.

The football part of the story was truly a game of two halves. The first half left me feeling a bit deflated and wondering about the quality and the approach.

We have players who operate at the top level of English football up against part-timers, but that's not how it looked for a long time in this match.

Jon Walters and Robbie Keane hardly had a decent touch in that first half. Aiden McGeady was a bit disappointing, and we needed to get him involved more.

In a game like this, getting an early goal is a huge advantage. Get one and it can easily become two or three, and that's why Keith Andrews missing the goal from a few yards out with that early header made it a tougher job than it might otherwise have been.

Apart from that, there weren't that many real first-half chances, and the Faroes looked a threat with some decent crosses into the box, particularly from set-plays.

The lads didn't create much in the first 45 minutes. Brady looked promising but didn't get too many chances to show what he can do from the wings, and he was replaced by Simon Cox at half-time.

Second half? You can't ask for a better start than to see Marc Wilson smashing the ball into the net, even though it took a deflection from a defender en route.

No matter, they all count. That was the immediate pressure off and the question was could Ireland push on and press home their advantage?

We didn't have to wait long for the answer. Wilson, who had a great night, whipped over a lovely cross and Walters got in a super header.

Robbie tried to claim it but it was Walters' goal.

The relief all round for the Irish, especially for the manager, was plain to see. There was a new spring in the step and a sense of eagerness to get on the ball and go for the jugular.

You also had to factor in that the Faroes players are part-timers and they had a tough game on Friday against Sweden, so it was asking a lot of them to stay with the pace of full-time players over the 90 minutes.

Unfortunately, there's nothing like a goal to power up the energy, and it was a real shock to see substitute Arnbjorn Hansen beat John O'Shea in the air to score their goal.

Luck was on our side because it was only about four minutes later when Pol Johannus Justinssen knocked in the own goal from the cross by Walters.

That was just the job to knock a bit of the stuffing out them.

From an Irish point of view, at 3-1 you're just looking to cruise home and get out of there with your three points, so O'Dea's fourth goal was an added bonus.

Irish Independent

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