Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Too Easily Hurt

Ireland 1.

Germany 6.

The type of score line the Vidiprinter had to write in brackets to confirm it wasn’t a mistake.

Ireland 1.

Germany 6 (Six).

That hurt.

That really hurt.

No matter what way you look at it.

Even if the team was severely depleted.

Missing the big four of Shay, Richard, Damien and Robbie was always going to be tough to cope with.

Not to mention the withdrawals of James McClean, Sean St. Ledger, Glen Whelan, Darron Gibson and Kevin Doyle.

That’s nine players who would have all felt they could start had Giovanni been able to choose from a fully fit squad.

But that hurt.

It still hurt knowing that goal difference actually counts for little in this group.

And defeat to Germany was mathematically at least, just 3 points dropped against the team everybody expects to win the group.

It was unlikely we were ever going to challenge Germany for top spot anyway.

So the result for once, actually does sound worse than it is.

That still hurt.

But it also hurt to think that we have a world class manager and this was the best he could do.

I always felt Giovanni might have a problem utilising the players at his disposal.

He was extremely successful when the players executing his orders were Totti, Brady or Mattheus.

With Ireland he has only ever been able to call on players from the lower half of the Premier League and beyond.

Not World Players of the year like before.

Instead, hard grafters and honest professionals.

Gifted to a certain extent but not in the same league as Michel Platini for instance.

Giovanni was able to build successful team after successful team around some of the world’s greats.

Now he must rely on players from L.A. Galaxy, West Bromich Albion or Stoke City to form his focal point.

Meaning Irish players are extremely restricted when it comes to world class talent.

And this was never more evident then when faced against a giant like Germany.

But it is Giovanni’s job to make sure these players play above themselves.

Give more than they are capable of as a team than they are as individual parts.

Yet even lowly Premier League players have more than what we saw on Friday night.

Championship players too.

Even Toronto FC.

But none of this was evident at the Aviva.

And it hurt.

Teams like that shouldn’t lose so heavily.

But they do.

The Germans thumped a full strength England side 4-1 at the last World Cup.

Only this summer, Spain handed out a 4 goal drubbing to Italy.

As for losing 6-1 at home - that’s the same score line that occurred when both Manchester teams met at Old Trafford last season.

England, Italy and Manchester United can all boast far superior playing squads than Ireland.

Yet all succumbed to heavy defeats.

Just like Ireland.

Losing to Germany is not a travesty.

Losing to Germany 6-1 isn’t either.

But the way that Ireland lost was.

And that’s what hurt the most.

They may not have the level of ability of their opponents.

But they can match them for heart.

Match their fight and spirit - so synonymous with Irish teams of the past.

Not the spirit that underpinned so many moral victories.

But the spirit that let the supporters know they were giving it their all.

Playing above themselves.

The sort that has been sadly lacking from Giovanni’s team for some months now.

Whether or not he can find it again is a serious question.

And all this is making it hard to defend Giovanni of late.

But defend him we must.

He took us to a first major championships in 10 years.

He deserves the chance to take us to the next...

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