Five talking points ahead of Ireland v Greece on Wednesday evening in the Aviva, kick off 7:45pm
1. Trap still the man with the plan(apparently)
This Wednesday’s friendly with Greece at the Aviva was supposed to be the beginning of a new era for Irish football. It is a measure of Trapattoni’s experience that he is still in the hot seat for the Greek showdown and although public support for the beleaguered Italian is in terminal decline, it is unlikely to faze Trappatoni when he patrols his technical area on Wednesday.
These November friendlies have already been long berated by Premier League managers and the general appetite for this game seems minimal at best. The fact that Greece aren’t renowned for their swashbuckling style merely contributes to the sense of apathy felt towards meaningless international football matches of this nature.
Regardless of the importance of the fixture, it still represents a chance for Trap to try out some new faces. After a slap on the wrist from the FAI, Trappatoni has eventually decided to take in some live football games involving his players and this friendly offers the Italian the chance to further show that he is at least willing to shake things up after the disasters of Poland and the German debacle.
2.Wes Hoolahan’s second coming a positive for Ireland
When Giovanni Trappatoni selected Hoolahan in the squad for this week’s fixture, it was just reward for a fine beginning to the season with Norwich.
Trap has indicated that Hoolahan will get at least forty five minutes to showcase the vision and ability to keep the ball that he has displayed at Premier League level. If Ireland are to stop playing hopeful long ball football, then players of Hoolahan’s ability are needed desperately.
When he ends his four years in the international wilderness, he will be thirty and while the former Shelbourne man will not play at this level forever, he can at least play a vital part in the campaign for Rio.
3. The continued rise of James McCarthy.
McCarthy has become a key player for Trappatoni in recent months and the Wigan midfielder has repaid his manger’s faith with interest.
When McCarthy was forced to withdraw from Euro 2012 squad due to his father’s battle with cancer, the Irish squad suffered for it, although in all probability, his game time would have been severely hampered by The presence of Whelan and Andrews.
Since the shambles of Poland, Trapattoni finally seems to understand the worth of McCarthy and was ebullient in his praise of the young midfielder in the build up to Wednesday’s friendly. Having just turned 22, McCarthy should be the fulcrum of this team for a decade and if his performances for club and country continue to improve then Ireland will be onto a winner.
4. Empty seats will be major worry for FAI
As previously discuessed, this home game appeared certain to be a new manager’s first following a bizarre FAI leak that seemed to put the wrtiting on the wall as far as Trap’s future was concerned.
The financial implications of abandoning the Italian were always likely to be a major stumbling block should Trap refuse to go and so it proved with the massive compensation due to Trappatoni and his back room in all likelihood salvaging him his job. However, any financial gain made by retaining the manager could yet be offset by poor crowd attendance for the remaining home games and a significant chunk of empty seats on Wednesday will surely worry John Delaney and co.
Having played our most glamorous home qualifying tie already this campaign, pressure will be on to try and fill the Aviva for our remaining fixtures and Wednesday’s crowd numbers should provide an interesting insight into public appetite, or lack thereof it, for this administration.
5. Shane Long may finally get chance to shine from start
Long was originally left out of the the provisional squad for this encounter due to a hamstring problem but has since started twice in the PremierLeague, Inc in front of Trapattoni.
With Robbie Keane not asked to travel from L.A for the tie, the door appears open for Long to show that he represents the future for Ireland up front. In a team hardly brimming with speed, Long’s ability to stretch defences with his pace should help give Ireland a different dimension.
Keane, whose speed has diminished, is now more content to come deep for a pass to feet whereas Long undoubtedly has all the attributes to play off the last defender. Although Wednesday is only a friendly, it would be a useful time for Long to remind Trappatoni of these qualities considering Jon Walters is out injured.