What has happened to Irish football? Nasri > Wiltord and more…

Date published: Monday 29th March 2021 2:12 - Editor F365

Enda Stevens Republic of Ireland Luxembourg Mails

We can get through the international break together. Keep your mails coming to theeditor@football365.com…


What has happened to Irish football? 
We used to be pretty good y’know. Not top tier good but punching above our weight, qualifying for major championships, producing good players. And even when we weren’t we still produced the likes of Liam Brady, Johnny Giles and Frank Stapleton.

To understand the landscape of Ireland’s decline you have to understand the sporting landscape in Ireland, politics and the GAA (the Gaelic Athletic Association – the organisation which runs our indigenous games – gaelic football, hurling and camogie – google it – its savage).

Traditionally hurling has been a game that was played “down the country” as Dubliners refer to the rest of the island of Ireland. It is a game of great skill that cannot be mastered by simple metrics, conditioning and training. Gaelic football is slightly different, less dependent on slight of hand and flick of wrist, there is much skill but more emphasis is placed nowadays on fitness levels, speed, endurance and organisation of a team, think Aussie Rules, biggest and fastest usually wins. Camogie is hurling played by women, often more ferociously!

Hurling is still dominated by country teams but for the past 6 years Dublin have won an unprecedented 6 Gaelic Football titles in a row, this has never been achieved and the scary thing is they don’t look like stopping anytime soon.

Why is this important?

In the early 90s Dublin were quite an average football team who won may one title a decade at best. Dublin has about a quarter of the Irish population so a decision was made between our Taoiseach (Bertie Ahern – a Dubliner a a big football fan – both gaelic and other) and the GAA to promote football within the capital with the dual aim of making Dublin more successful and in turn the GAA more popular and profitable. In itself this was not a bad thing in moderation but the enactment of this was anything but moderate.

For the last 25 years Dublin GAA has been receiving funding at a level light years beyond the other counties. Investment per player is 4 times that of the nearest county from school age right though to the senior team. This means Dublin are essentially a professional team playing an amateur game. At the same time rugby has also seen a surge in the capital in the same time frame and the Irish Football Association has been under the disastrous leadership of John Delaney.

So what says the average football 365 reader? Well done if you have made it this far!

Football in Ireland has traditionally been a game played in towns and cities whereas the GAA has flourished in snaller towns and villages (this is a generalization but illustrates where different sports held dominance).

Dublin has always been a football city and the majority of players for our senior teams have been produced on the parks and streets of the capital.

In one fell swoop the people who devised this policy started chain reaction which has effectively ruined two sports and the enjoyment of millions of people on this island all the in the name of greed.

Football at the grass roots in Ireland and in particular in Dublin is in tatters. Dublin GAA is an unstoppable beast and the effects of over investment have not even been addressed and their appears to be no will or desire to either.

This means the above situation is likely to last for another decade or perhaps two.

It is a terribly sad state of affairs but no one in Ireland writes anything much about it as all the main power brokers and journalists are in Dublin dreaming about the 10 in a row, while simultaneously wringing their hands about the state of our international team.
Dave LFC


Never have I heard such patronising waffle as spewed out by Paul McDevitt. Ending with the line “crying into their Guinesses” I think tells you everthing about the type of email it was.

Can I point out that in McCarthys last campaign Ireland limped past the “mighty” Gibraltar 1-0 & 2-0(one of the goals was an own goal and Gibraltar deserved a draw in their home game)so it wasn’t that great under Mick. We scored 7 goals in 8 qualifying games and Chipolini of Gibraltar was one of our joint top scorers for the campaign as he scored an own goal. And this is the guy we should want back??

It’s so harsh to kick Kenny at the moment. Give him a fully fit squad and a full Irish crowd and then judge him. The last thing we need is to get an O Neill type in,play 4-5-1 and hope for to score from a set piece. It was bad Sat night but,my god,games against Denmark,Georgia,Gibraltar,Northern Ireland(in the nations league)were an assault on the eyes.

Georgia away September 2017 Ireland drew 1-1 under O Neill. In the first 45 minutes Ireland completed 11 passes in the first half.
11. Bear in mind we kicked the game off and conceded a goal so kicked off again and those are included as completed passes it’ll tell you how atrocious this game was. Georgia away under Mick wasn’t much better.

We have been bad for years. Anyone with half an interest in Irish football knows that with the way the FAI was being run,this day of reckoning was coming. They were more interested in  throwing James Bond themed birthday parties for an egomaniac CEO(everyone Google “Delaney 50th Birthday party”.. you couldn’t make it up)then developing young players and coming up with a long term strategy.

Your sort of email is the same as the likes of Rio Ferdinand patronisingly and obnoxiously sneering at Newcastle fans for wanting better and having the temerity to want Ashley out. “Crying into their guinesses for Mick” indeed. Do me a favour.


Reading the mail’s this morning on Ireland’s embarrassment to Luxembourg, with the question being raised how it has got to this? I will give my opinion on how it has. Ireland is a small country with a small population where football is the fourth if not fifth most popular game behind Gaelic football, Hurling, Rugby and possibly golf recently. Taking that into consideration there is very little time left for soccer add to this the fai are as useful as a chocolate teapot when it comes to organising the sport in Ireland. But the real problem is the facilities and training being provided for underage groups in Ireland it’s basically non existent outside of the big cities like Dublin and Cork.

When I was 16 another 16 year old guy moved to my town from Birmingham he had been in their academy but had moved to Ireland for family reasons. Needless to say when we got on the pitch it was like we had just signed Johan Cruyff, the level he was at compared to the best players we had played with or against was just staggering none of us could compete with him. Before long he was basically running our training sessions as he had told us the drills we were doing in training as 16 year olds were the drills he had done as a 6 year old when he was starting off learning the basics. That right there is how it has got to this, we are already at a disadvantage having to fight with other sports just to get to people to play but then once we have them playing we are not coaching them correctly it’s all a massive mess that doesn’t look like getting better any time soon.

There are lots of great people out there trying to raise the level of Irish football to a standard we can be proud of, these people are fighting a loosing battle until something changes. Ireland need a focus on the youth game with proper coaching and training taking place from a young age to at least give our lads a chance of being on a level playing field with most other countries in Europe but I won’t hold my breath though, being beaten around by countries like Luxembourg and Georgia is exactly where we deserve to be right now. Can’t wait for them sack Kenny so they can put Mick McCarthy back in charge and we can continue going backwards.
Aaron CFC Ireland (shout out to Phil our own Birmingham Cruyff)



Three at the back
So Steve says people need to have a C Licence or basic refereeing qualification to have opinions about football now… you know like how only judges who have killed a man are allowed to preside over a murder trial…

Except, that’s a poor analogy, because a murder trial is an important thing, and being a judge is important work whereas football, and I can’t stress this enough, is a game. I don’t understand how a person can be so intellectually superior to write an email like that and at the same time not have the sense to just turn the football off at the final whistle and/or stop listening to talk radio phone-in shows!

I had chuckle at the condescending tone around a three-at-the-back formation being exciting and citing two teams that, by his own admission, do not use that formation! I completely understand the point about the best teams being tactically flexible (even though I have no coaching qualification, to my shame) – but maybe just one teensy example of a tactically flexible, exciting team who actually play with a nominal three centre backs? And let’s be clear, I’m not saying there aren’t any out there, I’d just expect a higher footballing intelligence like Steve to be able to support his, no doubt brilliant, thesis with an actual example! I’m sorry to say, even the murderer-judge would throw your case out for a lack of evidence!

My take, while there are no doubt a great many teams that are brilliantly attacking with three at the back, that is not the case in the English game generally. It’s become a bit of a by-word for lesser teams just packing their defence and hoping for the best – no pundit is going to slag off three centre-backs and two “sixes”* if the team is genuinely playing exciting attacking football!

Also, big congratulations on your Coaching C Licence (which I think is a Scottish thing?). Gruelling stuff, a full 30 hours of tuition and nine hours of being assessed… no wonder you’re now an unimpeachable font of footballing knowledge.

And as for referees knowing the rules inside out and always being right compared to the pundits… that is unequivocally untrue. See for example, the Man City/Villa offside decision, followed by the hastily and loudly issued press release citing the law that meant they were right, followed by the less hastily and quietly issued press release citing the full text of that law demonstrating how they were, in fact, completely wrong…
Andy (MUFC)

*Writing that term makes me shudder – right up there with double-pivot and false nine in the obnoxiousness stakes!


Presumably the next stage in Steve’s masterplan is a “Coaching Licence” at every turnstile in the country. That should keep those pesky opinions out the game.

Steve, it’s football – bad opinions are everywhere and when push comes to shove, no-one gives a sh*t about tactics, registas and pivotes when you’ve lost 6-1 at home or just won the Champions League. Try and just enjoy the game for its own sake, having a level C badge doesn’t exactly make you Rinus Michels either does it?
Jonny, MUFC


Steve – the football “expert”.

If challenged, people who enter into online commentary about all manner of subjects will usually say, “Well, that’s my opinion and I’m entitled to it”. But, if we have no idea what we are talking about and are not qualified then really we shouldn’t have an opinion about it and we are not entitled to it. Is that Steve’s point?

So if we are ill-informed where do we go to for information? Our preferred press and media outlets. And why? Because we either trust them as informative or not. Which begs the question, Why is Steve reading football365 at all? Surely there are trade/professional journals for sporting coaches to read? Maybe Steve reads football365 because he doesn’t agree with everything being said and it reinforces his own expert opinion? If that’s the case then football365 is providing Steve with a valuable service. Also Steve is making a comment on the profession of sports journalism. Is Steve an NCTJ qualified journalist? If not, then surely by his own standards he has no right to offer his opinion about how football365 journalists write their pieces? Additionally, coaches and officials don’t always get it right. This is evident to anyone who watches the game. They are not infallible.

Where you go to for your daily news says more about you than that media outlet and the journalists writing for it. My point is, we should all enter into discussions about anything and everything and have our opinions supported or disabused because isn’t that how we learn and reach conclusions?
Dave H. Liverpool


Arsenal XI…
Sorry Ash
but there are so many reasons why I disagree with Nasri keeping Wiltord out of your team. So many in fact I’m confident sending only this, allowing my fellow contributors to list a few.
James, Kent.


Samir Nasri Arsenal


In response to Ash (London)’s email about Arsenal’s French Eleven, I had a think about Chelsea and realised there was a pretty solid team too.

Mendy (Born in France so technically not cheating)

Gallas (LB)
Diarra (RB)



Subs, Deschamps, Zouma, Remy, Bakayoko and errmm, Lambourde as he scored against Tottenham many a year back.

Whilst not as dynamic as the Arsenal XI, defensively they’re absolutely rock solid. When a world cup winning captain can’t make your first team you know they’re strong there. Gallas and Diarra both performed admirably in their assigned positions alongside a world cup winning centre back pairing.

6 world cup winners and 2 losing finalists.
Lee (highbury)

p.s The French have produced some wonderful players over the last 20 years haven’t they. 


The opposite of shoehorning
Sam’s email about shoehorning your two best players who play in the same position into the same team got me recalling the 2006 World Cup. Italy had two great “number 10s” in Totti and Del Piero, didn’t they? We all know what England would have done in that situation. Here’s what Italy did.

Total number of minutes played by Italy in the tournament: 690

Total number of minutes Totti and Del Piero were on the pitch together: 16

World Cup winners: Italy

Funny, that.
Mark Lewis (SWFC)


Joining Johnny’s boycott…
It’s about time someone said what Johnny Nic did today about boycotting the Qatar World Cup. Not going should be the default position for any European country if they truly have some kind of notion of human rights. It should not even be a discussion. If the top European countries all pull out, FIFA will have to rethink – whether its playing it elsewhere or actually properly dealing with the atrocities being committed against those workers – they would have to do something.

Even from a fan’s point of view of trying to be oblivious about it so they can watch football, come on, it’s not like we don’t have enough football on TV right now. I think 427 seconds is the longest period we have had without live football on TV this season. We could all do with a break.
Adonis (Long time no see) Stevenson, AFC

My word….is there a liberal bandwagon anywhere that Johnny Nic won’t jump on?

I skimmed the article the other week where he suggested football should lead the fight against sexism or some other bollocks. Maybe football should just be football?

It’s a good job there is plenty of alternative content provided by other F365 writers.

JN is tiresome. He does some decent articles but even when writing about Gullit the other week there was a hint of the crusade about it. I didn’t have the heart (or did JN just choose to ignore) to let him know that Ruud is now in Qatar taking the filthy money working at Bein Sports with Keys and Gray…………hilarious.
Plato (MUFC)

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