I overheard a conversation between two football fans today; the gist of it was that Roy Keane had forgotten that the fans paid his wages as a player. They concluded that Roy was an idiot for suggesting that Irish fans need to adjust their acceptance of performances. To me this is a perfectly reasonable statement.
I believe what Keane was getting at is simply that losing four nil is not acceptable. Losing 3-1 to Croatia in the manner that the Irish did was not acceptable either. To say the team did the nation proud would be an extraordinarily flattering comment that simply isn’t true. Yes, the fans paid Roy’s wages, the fans also pay mishaps like Glen Whelan’s wages and the return they get is zilch. It is the question that any fan out there singing needs to ask themselves, drinking aside, did they enjoy the tournament? I wasn’t drinking and the answer is a resounding NO.
There is a sect of fans blaming the manager, again I don’t agree. The players are simply not good enough for a start. The blame must rest solely with FAI, and their astonishing believe that anything is right in Irish football. In recent seasons, the coaching curriculum has been adjusted to that of a Dutch ideology. That in itself may seem promising, but until it is put into practise at the ground level of Irish football, the effects of such an endeavour will never see the light of day. While younger coaches are learning the new system, which itself still leaves a lot to be desired, the men running football in this country are still from the Jurassic erroneous Charles Hughes era of the game.
The recent inclination of English clubs to shop abroad, where flair and creativity is in abundance is not helping the Irish cause either. Ireland is reliant on English football to produce players for their national team. The league in Ireland is not of a high enough standard and does not have the right sort of investment to produce a starting eleven at international level. Again, the problem falls on the doorstep of the FAI: while they have implanted a new coaching curriculum, they are happier paying astronomical wages to a coach that is not in keeping with these ideals.
The one shining light in this new ‘Dutch influenced’ coaching scheme is the addition of the word transition to the Irish footballing vocabulary. Football is not just about attacking or defending, there is constant transitions going on.