Sport Soccer

Wednesday 22 November 2017

Steven Reid: We'll need to call on old guard for Swedish trip as fringe brigade not ready for World Cup heat just yet

Steven Reid

Steven Reid

THIS game was all about the fringe players coming in and impressing and, unfortunately, not too many put their hands up against Greece.

Unfortunately, I think we will still be relying on the old guard when we take on Poland ahead of the crucial qualifiers in March.

This was a real chance for James McCarthy, in particular. I have been really impressed by him in the Premier League, but so far he hasn't really done it for Ireland.

He has been given a number of chances to show what he can do and he will be disappointed with last night.

But bear in mind that before I made my Ireland debut, Mick McCarthy said to me that it can take 10 games to really show what you can do.

It is probably unfair to expect them to just show up against Greece and perform, they need an extended run in the side.

You need to feel your way, get to grips with the way that international football is played. It is a completely different experience, it is quite nerve wracking at times for younger lads and it does take time.


The friendlies are so different to qualifiers, they lack intensity and on a night like last night it can be difficult to get up for a game like that when there is so little atmosphere.

Giovanni Trapattoni had to try and experiment. We know what our best 11 can do, the 14 or 15 regular players. This was a chance for the guys who are outside of that to go out and showing the manager what they can do.

These international friendlies can become so drab. There is not too much action and the manager can only do so much.

He has put out a team who have to go out and try and impress him, the lads that go across the line have got to take the bull by the horns and have a right go.

There weren't too many of those impressive performances we were looking for.

You are missing the creativity of Damien Duff and Robbie Keane and they are both world class on their day. You look at the side now and you struggle to see where that spark will come from.

The lads started well, but five minutes before Greece scored they allowed them into the game a bit more.

The goal came against the run of play, we knocked it about pretty well without creating too much.

James McClean didn't really have a go at his man as much as I would have liked, but Robbie Brady was one of the better performers, he saw a lot of the ball and put in some decent balls but, apart from that, there wasn't much for the two strikers to thrive on.

I wrote about Shane Long's abilities in yesterday's column, but he saw so little of the ball and had to work off scraps before exiting at half-time.

He had so little service and sometimes in international friendlies you have 20 or 30 passes but you haven't even crossed the half-way line. We showed so little urgency.

We had plenty of possession, but no cutting edge in the final third.

Simon Cox will be disappointed he didn't taken either of his chances, but while Keith Andrews injected some life after half-time and Seamus Coleman showed glimpses of what he can do, on the whole it was a flat, disappointing night.

Ciaran Clark was one player did well, he gave a solid display – even if he was a little fortunate to escape with just a yellow card for that crunching challenge on Jose Holebas towards the end of the first half.


Sometimes, a tackle like that can get the crowd going and give the crowd a lift.

At least we could see that he was up for the fight.

We weren't put under too much pressure. I think Coleman and John O'Shea would have been disappointed by the nature of Holebas' goal.

Seamus could have showed his man wide, while John might have gotten tighter, but apart from that David Forde didn't have much to do.

It was a flat night, the crowd was small and it is difficult and expensive for fans to go to games every month.

Some of that will be on the back of the Germany result, maybe it was one friendly too many.

There has been plenty of talk about changing the friendly schedule, but, ultimately, this was an opportunity lost for the fringe players to show their worth.

Irish Independent

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