Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Collection For Stan, Please Give Generously.

It has become impossible to steer myself away any longer from the painful embarrassment that it the current state of our international team. Endless denunciations from bloodthirsty scribes and pundits have been fuelling the bloodlust that surrounds the beleaguered principality of Stanland. These people are being paid for their opinions, in some cases because they are more learned than you or I.

They have the knowledge of what the pressures are at the top level; but more importantly they have an opinion which they are prepared to tout. Not a venal sin by any stretch of the hamstring; football is a game of opinions - no two people will select the same team for a game, nor a squad for a match. So those of us who are equivalent to taxpayers for the FAI are strongly entitled to voice our opinions. Especially, given that the FAI are now the sole rulers of football in the 26 counties, their decision making at any level is relevant to eL supporters.

Our monies go a long way towards providing Stan's reported €400k per annum; should we produce the kind of results in the workplace that Ireland have under Stan, our employment status would be up for grabs.

If I was going about my business and a stretch limo pulled up beside me I would assume that the chauffeur was looking for directions. Were the blacked out window at the cultured end to roll down I would anticipate a similar, if more urgent enquiry from the chauffeured one.

When mild-mannered football coach Steve Staunton was going about his daily business with the Saddlers in another world he was bitten by a fop-haired insect in a long black limo. Stan, as he was sometimes known was endowed with special powers - he would become overnight one half of a world class football management team. Untold riches would be his, and people would believe anything that the fophaired one said - Stan did.

But the spell was broken when Ireland capitulated in the balmy climes of Cyprus - the intervening efforts have left us cold. The efforts at talking up revenge have left this blogger limp and squirming. Revenge - against the mighty Cypriots? Again, the venerable Bobby Robson has been removed from his jar to rally the troops. Do they think we are too stupid to see through this also? 'He's been in the job two years now, and he's getting better', or words to that effect rallied Bob. I've never performed an appendectomy, but after two years of practise I reckon I'd be better than when I'd started. Whether or not my victims were still going through excruciating pain or not seems to be incidental.

We've introduced new players, the future is bright -2010 World Cup qualification is on the horizon. If this is true,if we really do have the players, now is the time to give them a manager capable of influencing them; moulding them into a cohesive unit. Ireland's strength has always come from our team ethic; we have always been better than the sum of our parts. As a disparate unfocussed collection of individuals we cannot hack it on the European or World stage. Jack Charlton's regime was the proof of this.

Yes, Charlton's uncoupling of Liam Brady and Dave O'Leary was hard to swallow; the rigid formations and direct football; but they were part of a system. The system brought unmatched success to our international side. Success in relative terms I acknowledge, but how we yearn for it now.

Charlton was imperfect, we all are; but there was no doubt who was in charge. He lived and died on his beliefs as to how the game would be played. Experience coupled with success endowed him with belief and substance to most supporters.

In this aspect the virginal Stan was hung out to dry. Clearly unprepared for what lay ahead he has failed on all fronts. Performances, both his and his players' have been abject overall. The recent opening 45 minutes against Germany confounded. The subsequent second half improvement even more so.

Post match analysis has been comically naive. One such instance culminated in the 102 times capped Louthman shrugging his shoulders and saying 'What can you do?' €400k a year and that's the response. I can think of plenty of things you can do, and I'm not getting paid to do so. Such utterances from our leader hardly inspire faith or cultivate belief in the young boss. He has learnt a little; now every performance is spun to within an inch of its natural existence. Does anybody swallow this? Surely not JD?

You don't reach the highest echelons of power in Merrion Square without learning how to kill silently in cold blood. JD's judgement is on the line; therefore his reputation. He made a gross error of judgement by appointing an inexperienced man to the highest post in Irish football. International management is not a schooling ground; it is replete with men who have served at the coalface; tired of the day-to-day grind they turn their assets to a part-time commitment. Stan is a guppy in shark-infested waters. He has never had the chance to hone his management skills - to establish a bespoke style of play; to learn how to deal with the intricate counterpoints presented as a game unfolds and a gameplan collapses.

There is not a football supporter in this country who could not have achieved what Staunton has, without the bloated pay packet. There is not a football supporter in this country who begrudges him for taking the job that he was offered - we would all take that chance for the money. If he resigns now his career will be incinerated; the ashes may constitute the compost for future progress, but it will be a long way off the international radar. The money will help. Fans may even consider contributing to a Stan Fund, it would be worth the expense.

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