The same argument about result-versus-performance was thrashed out last Wednesday as Graeme Souness reasoned that three points was mission accomplished by Giovanni Trapattoni, regardless of his team’s edgy display in coming from behind to beat Georgia at a two-thirds-full Croke Park.
Dunphy and Giles disagreed with the Scot as usual. The end didn’t justify the means, they argued, and that without a dodgy ref we’d have been banjaxed, largely due to a bankrupt midfield.
Souey offered the view that the manager is eking out decent results with a very modest group of players. Dunphy took umbrage and was on the verge of bestowing excellence on every Irishman bar Stephen Kelly until he satisfied himself that they were good, very good in some cases, if not great.
The start to the game was Stauntonesque, Shay Given thinking he was back at Newcastle there for a minute. Having headed in at half-time to boos from the home hiss-heads (‘greatest supporters in the world’; what a shallow, self-congratulatory sham that always was), the players, to their credit, managed to pick things up several notches in the final 20 minutes and, if the equaliser was a travesty, the winner was worthy of the overall effort and initiative shown particularly by the likes of Aidan McGeady (or “McCreevy”, as Bill O’Herlihy called him… thrice), the workaholic Kevin Doyle and Damien Duff.
While he’s a lightning rod for fans’ fickleness, not for the first time Robbie Keane did the business when and where it mattered, though he could have done with a few headers flying in off his earlobe at his previous club.
Signs are that Trapattoni might well be a lucky manager, not least with a €2m p.a. contract extension already on the table. Hold your horses, John. Jack Charlton surely got plenty rubs of the green, and while they could barely sing, often looked awful, and frequently couldn’t play, good fortune at the right time brought them and the ‘plastic paddies’ a long way. One wonders did he ever buy Gary Mackay that Guinness?