If there is one thing we know how to do, it’s executing the long ball strategy. For years it has brought relative success given our limited resources, despite making for excruciating viewing when watching the Irish national team play. Ultimately however, the long ball game optimises our chances of winning.
Many argue that we do in fact have players capable of creative play through the likes of Wesley Hoolahan, but do our physical, mental and defensive qualities outweigh our optimal attacking approach?
Wes Hoolahan who turns 36 next May has only started 7 times for Norwich this season to date. Meanwhile, our Burnley contingent (Brady, Hendrick, Ward, Walters and Long) are having success playing in a defensive system, sitting 7th in the table and boasting the fourth best defensive record in the Premier League conceding just 9 goals in 11 games.
Both centre backs, Clarke and Duffy have been performing well domestically and for Ireland, our duel winning midfielder – Harry Arter, thrives in gritty games, and with our key attacking options in Shane Long and James MaClean both capable of bursting counter attack play, the conservative ‘operation hoof’ approach seems fitting.
How far can we go with a defensive mindset?
While it might seem important to seize the day, usually weathering the storm defensively presents its own window of opportunity to snatch and grab games as the opposing side grows increasingly frustrated with their lack of progress. Waiting to Capitalize on set pieces and seldom attacking spells may not be as redundant as it seems with physical players such as Duffy and Clarke lurking, not to mention the ‘Irish Ibrahimović’, Daryl Murphy.
As we develop a reputation for becoming the ‘draw masters’ of Europe, we should take encouragement from advancing through a tough group while implementing operation hoof. inspirational efforts such as the Greek triumph of 2004, and Leicester winning the Premier League (2016) allow us to continue the dream of drawing our way to World Cup glory in Russia.
Midweek Football Selections – November 14th
Single – 1pt
Ireland to qualify (11/8)
A patriotic vote of confidence for the boys in green is the only way to go. Despite being outplayed in Copenhagen, we have a reassuring record in play-offs for major tournaments and the biased fan within believes we will find a way to qualify.
Another tight game is on the cards and extra time may be a likely possibility. Ireland tend to make extremely late substitutions, if this is the case on Tuesday night, hopefully fresh legs will rejuvenate Ireland if extra-time were to occur in front of a packed Aviva stadium.
By Ciarán Cunningham, 12/11/2017