I’m sure a certain amount of self-delusion must be required for the likes of Darron Gibson, Anthony Stokes, Glenn Whelan and Keith Andrews to retain their self-belief as part of the Republic of Ireland international squad. Few would argue that the above are good enough to be selected in a squad ahead of Fat Andy Reid, Stephen Liarland and Lee Carsley. And while the circumstances are different for the different players, frustration is starting to mount amongst fans, pundits and journalists.
Ireland may have recorded three wins and two draws in their five qualifiers so far but outside of a resolute performance in Montenegro, there has been little to get excited about. Last night’s dreadful performance against a reasonable but uneven Bulgarian team may be the last straw for a lot of people.
By “last straw” I don’t mean that they are going to demand Trap’s sacking. That would be fairly insane. But then again “insane” might be a good way to describe his persistence with unremarkable footballers like Whelan, Gibson and Andrews.
We understand why Stephen Liarland isn’t there – well, we actually don’t completely understand as there is a lack of transparency and sincerity from both sides – but Andy Reid’s exclusion is a divisive issue that’s only going to cause the management team uncomfortable moments as the performances continue to deteriorate.
There’s a fear that we make Reid out to be Zidane. He isn’t. But he is a talented, creative player who, in the context of the current midfield selection, stands head and shoulders above. Andrews is a hard worker and a decent player who tries to get involved but he is a class below the likes of Liarland and Reid. Whelan is a complete non-entity who looks afraid of the limelight. His selection baffles.
And with Kevin Kilbane struggling at left back last night (several times he failed to read high balls hit in his direction and one of these misjudgements led to his own-goal) and Stephen Hunt routinely showing himself to be devoid of any technical ability whatsoever, Ireland’s qualifying campaign looks to be in serious trouble.
If Ireland fail to get anything out of the next two games away to Italy and Bulgaria (and that looks likely) they will then need to go to Cyprus and win to stand a chance of staying ahead of Bulgaria in the group. Pessemistic as it may seem, this situation is completely of Trapattoni’s making. While he is unlucky to lose Stephen Reid to injury and Liarland to circumstances, his ignoring of Andy Reid is even more underlined.
If Ireland fail to qualify for the World Cup then Trap should be fired, simple as. And not because we failed to qualify but because he has failed to make the most of the limited resources he was given. Maybe Denis O’Brien, who contributes a substantial percentage of the Italian’s salary, should have a quiet word.