Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Seanachie's heart is beating a bit faster than usual this morning, as tomorrow sees the return of the Irish football team to action (why, instead of the insipid 'Boys in Green' can we not call them 'an foireann', something cool, like the Italian Squadra, the German Mannschaft, the Portuguese Seleçao, even the damn Swiss have one: the Nati). It is a friendly game at home against the Dutch, preparation for the Euro qualifying opener against Germany in 2 weeks time. I can't say that I was terribly enthusiastic upon hearing of Steve Staunton's appointment a few months back; the last thing the Irish team needs is another residuum of the Charlton era. But now that he's there, we may as well put up with it. The win against Sweden in March was convincing but then we surrendered meekly to Chile in May; little should be read into either result. Ireland have ahead of them a tough but not impossible qualification group, facing the formidable-but-predictable Germans, the Czechs, who are on the slide, the rising stars of Slovakia and the tricky Welsh. With two to advance from that group, we should be aiming to qualify. Let's hope that Staunton tackles the task honestly without resorting to the excuses that marred the end of the Brian Kerr era; Bobby Robson's stroke has deprived Staunton of his mentor (however little he likes Robson to be called that) and the latest news reports say that, in a thoroughly bizarre incident, a man has been arrested for threatening Staunton outside the team hotel in Portmarnock with an imitation Uzi. It is like an incident out of an obscure Central European novel, or something. The BBC report says that Staunton is 'unharmed' after the incident. I should hope so.