Mails: Irish hangovers, Big Sam for England

Date published: Thursday 23rd June 2016 2:38

Seriously, that’s a great Mailbox. Keep it up, and send your thoughts to


There was nowhere near enough fanfare in the morning mailbox regarding the boys in green’s result last night. Amazing result. Very good performance.

I remember watching Ireland V Netherlands in qualification years ago. It was a match we needed to win.

Roy Keane set the tone in the first minute by crunching Overmars. Last night 30 seconds in Seamus Coleman gets stuck in early doors on an Italian player (name lost to the blur) and it set the tone for everyone. Players & fans alike react to those challenges. It shows commitment, fight and an enthusiasm to put in 100%. That’s how we get results against the big teams. We outfight them, we put in more work. We don’t shy away from challenges. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea. It’s not always pretty but who gives a fiddlers when ya win.

I can’t tell you how happy everyone is in the office today. Everyone is smiling. Everyone is in good form.

People who usually don’t watch football tuned in last night. Everyone is cancelling/making plans for Sunday. Our national sport have had to move scheduled games because they clash with the football. This is brilliant. I love football so much because every now and again it gives you nights like that. The country heads into the weekend in a great mood.

The Italians put out a second string team. The French have a week’s rest ahead of the game on Sunday. Do I give a f*ck? I do in my hole.

If Karma is a real thing surely now we’ll get revenge for that handball and dump the hosts out in the last 16 and play England in the quarters……ok I’ll stop. I’m getting carried away.
I’m delirious. COYBIG.
Gough, LFC, Dublin. (Darren Randolph has completed more dribbles(1) in Euro 2016 than; Fabregas, Milik, Thiago, Lukaku & Embolo)


After finally beginning to come down from the adrenaline high of last night, I have to sit here and wonder. Northern Ireland fans, Welsh fans, and the Icelanders have had this buzz. Not all goals in the final minutes to get you through, but an absolute euphoria none the less. Us Irish are on such a high, that anything from here is a bonus.

Then you look to the English fans, despite going through it’s been moaning, complaining, looking for who the next manager will be. While the pundits were celebrating getting a team in the next round, who everyone seems to agree, is the opposite to the kind of team England need to play to perform better.

It really makes me think. England fans must be jealous as hell of the rest of us right now. You have a better chance of winning the tournament than us, yes I’ll give you that. But at 6th favourites, and at 10/1, you really don’t have that good a chance. You will not get this high, you’ll just complain.

Seriously guys, football is a joy, something to feel, experience, live and love. Embrace it for what it is, 90 minutes of escapism. If you are fortunate enough to beat Iceland with a 91st minute goal; then shout, scream, cheer, yell, hug the person beside you and enjoy every second of it. Don’t moan that you should be beating teams like that 3-0. You are not good enough to win this tournament. You will not be good enough to win the next world cup. Just enjoy the ride. Maybe then l’equipe will start writing articles about how likable you guys are too.
Adam, LFC, Belfast.


I was home at 5 in work at 8 ive had 2 hours sleep and haven’t showered but my god am I a happy man today.

So here’s 16 Conclusions from the Ireland game

1- I love Robbie Brady
2- Jeff hendrick has a great attitude a great engine and a great barnet
3- O Neill was brave with his changes and they paid off
4- Sheamus Coleman was outstanding and clearly revelled in his role as captain
5- Mclean is a looper
6- I love Robbie Brady
7- I imagine Roy Keane had a lot to do with the way Ireland started the game and put in proper challenges
8- Wessi went from being a bottling idiot to a little genius within in 1 minute
9- It’s perfectly acceptable to cry when a goal like that goes in
10- McCarthy was a lot better without Whelan next to him.
11- I love Robby Brady.
12- Duffy and Keogh were nervous wrecks for the first 20 minutes then grew into the game .
13- Italy looked like they really didn’t care about the result and were awful going forward.
14- Buffon was sound after the match so he can come for a pint anytime he wants.
15- France vs Ireland on Sunday is sure to have the best atmosphere ever, I’ve already began practising my sick call on Monday it’s a tossup between the s*ts and my 5th granny dying
16- Ireland is the most amazing country in the world when stuff like this happens if we actually went on to win the thing im pretty sure the country would shut down.
Will ( Robbie Brady for the ballon d’or)


1. For all the talk about the Italy squad rotation. Credit has to go to Martin O’Neill who also made significant changes to the Irish side including a new centre back pairing and removing Mr.Reliable Glenn Whelan from the starting line up. That said, our changes worked. Italy were dross on the night.

2. To score a winning goal in the last 5 minutes that didn’t require a long ball and a scramble was just delicious. It also meant we only had to hang on for 5 minutes, a rare treat!

3. James McClean – he’s really not that good, his first touch normally takes him 10ft back towards his own goal and he’s overly aggressive at the wrong time. However, for some undefined reason, he just makes Ireland better when he plays for us. An even greater achievement once I saw his post match interview and realised English is his second language. I couldn’t understand most of what he said.

4. Michael D. Higgins, our beloved president. He’s about 3 foot tall, has a whiff of the leprechan about him and sounds like an old lady when he speaks. To see him bouncing up and down arms aloft when Ireland scored was just brilliant (He’s 75 years old). My 2nd favourite Michael D moment ever, the first being when he puts down controversial right wing American DJ Michael Graham on radio (there’s the full debate on youtube, well worth a listen).

5. Robbie Bradys post match on-pitch interview. I know we all think footballers are over paid, passionless, self-absorbed, egotistical, media trained zombies but seeing Brady just after the game telling what it means while holding back tears was just lovely.

6. Seamus Coleman is going to make an excellent old man as he already talks like he has no teeth.

7. We need to talk about Stephen Hunt. On RTE (Irish BBC) last night he was one of the panelists on the highlights show. I didn’t recognise him. His hair is now a thing of fascination and wonder. It’s short grey/black on the sides and then a kind of Trump-esque dirty blonde comb-back then hairsprayed to ozone destroying levels on the top. I’ve no idea how he was as a panelist because the hair was all encompassing. The picture doesn’t do it full justice

8. Buffon – classiest guy in football. No sooner had the final whistle blown than he was over to Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane smiling and congratulating them while the two of them hugged it out on the pitch.

9. Roy Keane – doesn’t he have a lovely smile?



Robbie Brady got all the plaudits for his finish last night which is par for the course when bagging all important winners and history making goals but my word that was a lovely ball from Hoolahan.

I have always enjoyed watching him play and possibly the lack of composure for his chance is the reason he has not quite pushed on to a bigger stage? Norwich or ROI supporters could possibly advise on that. His lovely goal against Sweden being classed as an “instinct” finish rather than the “decision” finish he faced last night.

Great tournament so far with a real feeling of intensity surrounding the majority of games. Croatia have impressed as usual and Belgium have baffled as usual. Good luck to the home nations and ROI in the next round.
Plato – MUFC


Just a question, where’s that lad from the Mailbox who said both Ireland teams wouldn’t get a point in their groups?

This Euro tournament is just about to wake up from its slumber now!
Gary B (ole, ole, ole, ole!!!)


Winners and losers from the group stages
Oh go on then.


Wales – where England dominated Russia, Wales outclassed. The secret of finishing above England: Dodgy goalkeeping in their first game, their two best players running rampant in the crucial third game, and no opponent who just parked the bus. That might change in the next round…

Northern Ireland – you really can’t say they didn’t deserve it. The brilliant win against Ukraine will live long in the memory, but that cautious approach against Poland is vindicated too: with so many third place teams going through, goal difference was always going to be important and in the end another concession against the World Champions wouldn’t have mattered.

The Republic of Ireland – you might tell by my surname that I was practically on the ceiling by the end of the game. I can just see my Dad’s face as Robbie Brady’s goal went in. When I spoke to a cousin after the game it was like he’d just undergone a deeply spiritual experience. The Irish benefited from a disinterested opponent, but they were the best team throughout and were denied a clear penalty. The ghost of Thierry Henry was laid to rest, at least partly, another team showed themselves to be greater than the sum of their parts, and at the end we actually saw Roy Keane happy. As one wag tweeted: Roy Keane is smiling, everyone is terrified.

Wes Hoolahan – from hero to zero to hero in minutes. To conjure a ball like that just seconds after making such a colossal mess of *the* chance takes the big balls.

Croatia – the strongest team on their side of the draw, and they should – should! – have more than enough for Portugal next game. Not a bad reward for deservedly beating the tournament favourites without the help of their talisman. Ivan Perisic is now my hero.

Belgium – functional, through, and thanking their lucky stars they were so poor against Italy.

Iceland – forget the absolutely amazing feat of a country with a population you could fit in a Renault Espace qualifying for the knock out stages, the truly global story is that commentator’s ascension into commentary immortality. Nothing will match the orgasmic screaming of DENNIS BERGKAMP!! from France ’98, but Gummi Ben (at least that’s what he’s called on Twitter) has come the closest. Part elation, part someone massacring a pig. And here’s what he looked like as he was doing it, if you’re interested:

Ronaldo – even more Ronaldo than that beautiful flick or that towering header is the complete dick move of throwing a microphone in a lake. Cristiano is back, and not a moment too soon for Portugal’s defence, because they look dodgy.


England – the issue isn’t resting players, it’s not having the creativity to unlock massed defences. Wayne Rooney’s been great at picking out the right back, but useless at setting up the strikers in the same way as Dele Alli found Daniel Sturridge vs Wales. It’s a problem compounded by playing Jamie Vardy, who basically reduced England to a ten-man unit. A semi final appearance now looks like a real achievement.

Jordan Henderson – that pass back on 94 minutes could define his England career, though really it should be the overhit crosses we remember him for.

France – did all they needed in order to exploit the easy run they’d been gifted, then proceeded to watch everyone f**k it up for them. They must wish that last-minute penalty was awarded to Switzerland now. Also, call me a cynic, but they missed a trick by not playing Kante and getting him booked. Surely they’re better off missing him for the last 16 than a quarter final.

Sergio Ramos – I know he has a big-game mentality, but hopefully the entire team tore strips off him for taking that penalty. I imagine Luka Modric might receive a bit of a reducer when pre-season training gets underway in Madrid.

Sweden – gearing up for the long, cold post-Zlatan winter.

Albania – all that heroism, the incredible emotion in Armando Sadiku’s celebration, for nothing. Who knows where they’d be if captain Lorik Cana hadn’t let them down so badly against the Swiss.

Mesut Ozil – people will forget just how brilliant that performance was because the Germans were so wasteful. In that kind of form, he is truly one of the world’s absolute best players.

Aleksander Dragovic – red card and a penalty miss. Sums up the Austrian experience really.

Ukraine – officially the competition’s worst team.

Russia – and the tournament’s least welcome one. It probably won’t matter to them particularly but the prospect of a Russian World Cup in two years is already embarrassing. Their sporting culture is awash with cheating and bigotry and we should very seriously consider a boycott. They’re terrible at football as well.
Will (Europe is great, but please vote Leave on 24th June) O’Doherty


The sad legacy of tiki taka
I hope I’m not pushing the boat at too much if I suggest that the football served up in Euro 2016 has been, with a few exceptions, a bit rubbish. Packed defences have dominated proceedings, resulting in low-scoring games. Low-scoring does not implicitly mean a match is boring. However, most of Euro 2016 has been.

It’s pretty easy to discern the pattern that the majority of games have fallen into. One team sets up to attack, the other sets up to defend. There have been a few blessed occasions where both teams have actively tried to win the game, but these have indeed been few.

Actively trying to win the game does not necessarily mean attacking football. Italy were near to perfect in their group game against Belgium. Immaculate defending and a well implemented plan to get men forward at pace to attack. It remains my favourite match of the group stages.

England’s games have all followed the same pattern. The bus has been parked, and England were unable to find a way around it for the most part. Profligacy played its part, but it’s not like six or seven clear cut chances were carved out in any one game. Germany, France, Belgium and Spain have faced similar trials, and they have, on balance, fallen short.

There has been a fair amount of hand-wringing and navel-gazing. However, no-one has really looked at why this is happening, beyond blaming incompetent managers, which I tend to agree with, but it’s not the only reason. Almost a decade ago, Spain and Barcelona unleashed tiki-taka on the world, and they dominated in a way that we have rarely seen. You all know how it works, so let’s not go into the finer details.

Like anything that’s in vogue, three things happened. First, people tried to copy it, with varying degrees of success. Second, others tried to figure out how to stop it, with various degrees of success. Finally, it petered out. Its proponents lost their youth and their edge. The next generation, quite simply, aren’t as good at it. But they’re moulded in its image, and that is a huge problem, because when something operates at 80-90%, it becomes easy to stop.

The top teams at Euro 2016 play in the same way, more or less. 4-2-3-1 possession based football that tries to replicate that Spain and Barcelona team. Only they can’t. What we see is the sad legacy of tiki-taka. Weaker teams have been forced to defend narrow and deep, because tiki-taka seeks to penetrate behind the defence with through balls in the width of the penalty area. When you don’t have Xavi playing those passes, life is somewhat easier for defending teams. Likewise, full backs have been taught to recycle the ball into midfield rather than cross it. Wingers have been phased out of the game as playmakers have taken their place in the wide positions. The result? You get a squad like England’s, where the only player that can really cross a ball with any sort of quality is James Milner. And who is he crossing it to anyway? Diminutive forwards are en vogue, so even if you do have a decent crosser of the ball, he has to be really good to land it on the head of the likes of Mario Gotze.

I’ve been as bored as anyone by the teams that defend with no intent of winning the game, but who can blame those teams? I’d do the same in their position. The blame here really lies with the stronger teams, who are so one-dimensional, merely trying Plan A again and again. The exception to this is probably Croatia, who can attack with a good tempo and defend, with midfielders who get into the opposition box and dictate the play, an old-fashioned winger in Ivan Perisic (best player of the tournament so far?), and a forward who has plenty of support when he gets the ball.

I expect more of the same in the knockout stages. Maybe it’ll shake a few things up medium term.
Andy, London


Finally, someone calls for Big Sam
Regardless of how far England progress in the Euro’s it obvious Hodgson has got to go. Bottom line is just like recent managers he has breezed through qualifying to only look clueless once the actual tournament starts. What is even worse is that if we’d played Russia and Slovakia in qualifying we probably would have won comfortably home and away. He’s now getting desperate under media pressure and making impulsive against character decisions. It worked against Wales but unlikely to be successful against better sides or even Iceland as they are very organised and hard working enough to not roll over for us just because we brought on a couple of strikers.

Roy is a very likable chap, the players seem to like him a lot too but in the 4 years he’s been in charge on England he’s failed to come up with a formation, style and tactics that suit the players he has at his disposal which is considering he’s had pretty much the same core of players since 2012 writes his P45 itself. We are not anywhere near as technically gifted as Spain, Germany, France, Argentina etc so shouldn’t even be trying to play a possession based passing style as once we come up against a top side we don’t see much of the ball anyway (Italy are sans Pirlo and previous talent so have been smart enough to ditch it so why not England). Slovakia showed having most of the ball doesn’t really help us much either.

Now you may say who out there could do the job better? Well if Roy’s successor has to be English then the choices are thin on the ground (Pardew, Howe, Dyche). However unpopular this choice maybe there is one Englishman who definitely wants the job and has a reputation for playing effective systems with the technically adequate players he has at his disposal. The football might not be always pretty but that man is Sam Allardyce!

That might make you laugh or even cause you to fill with rage but I can’t see a better option. English players unless they are in a team surrounded by technically gifted foreigners can only really play a direct style of football and Big Sam has delusions of grandeur about himself but no delusions in regards to how his team can and do play. With our current crop of potential England players he could build a very effective team. That may include a little (or a lot) of Andy Carroll but since Welbeck has been the only consistently effective forward under Hodgson others deserve a chance. In Dele Alli he has an very much more talented version of Kevin Nolan to create and feed off the striker be that Kane, Carroll, Welbeck or somebody else over 6ft. We also have quite a few decent wingers (Not that Roy selected any he must have an allergy) to get the ball into the box for him to pick from in Redmond, Albrighton and Towsend. He has Barkley, Sterling and Milner who are versatile and when on form very effective. We have great full backs on either side so in tandem with proper wingers that would be a headache to any opposing team. Other than Dier our central midfield is a little be soft so that needs to be fixed which is again something he could do. Henderson isn’t good enough or effective enough at anything, Wilshere is never fit and England are not Arsenal so hopefully Big Sam would have the sense to leave them both out. Central defense needs more steel but again that’s an issue he could resolve.

Sorry this has got long but my point is England are a second tier international team with mostly second tier standard international players so need a manager that can do the best with what he has a imprint a style they can actually be effective playing which is something Ericsson, Capello, Hodgson. Mcclaren could never do but Allardyce maybe well can.

(Before any of you mention how much better West Ham are under Bilic just remember Payet, Lanzini and Antonio only joined this season so of course they are!)
William, Leicester


Play Rooney as a striker against Iceland
This might be a left field suggestion, and most people (including me) were petrified of this exact possibility in the run up to the tournament but here goes…

Rooney was moved to central midfield because he wasn’t considered good enough to play up top for England any more.

“But his scoring record for England is very good” some said

“Yes he scores loads in qualifying, but that’s against loads of crap teams” went the general consensus, “and we have two strikers on red-hot form”

Well guess what? Both those strikers are currently looking a bit shit as they are a) f***ing knackered, or b) don’t really suit England’s system, or c) both.

Also guess what? We’ve only played crap teams so far (Wales might not be a crap team but against us they sure as hell played like one). And hey, we’ve got another one in the next round!

So why not switch back to the team that bulldozed 10 games against minnows in qualifying and reinstate the skipper at no.9 vs Iceland?
Linvoy Primus


F*** Dat Guy
Regarding your Welbzzz intro, I’ll stick by what I say.

The fact he ‘did delay too long over his chance’ just epitomises the man, all work rate no end product. He will do superbly to get near the goal then he’ll fart and fall over in amazement at what his body just accomplished.
Silvio (How often does Tony Pulis say Clive?) Dante


England’s life a struggle without Dat Guy? Erm, Really? The amount of chances we’ve created and missed and yet you’re suggesting we’re missing a guy who falls backwards to the floor when he shoots so it makes it look like it was more difficult than it looked? No. We’re missing an Andros Townsend, an Andy Carroll (yes even him), basically a plan B.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, we’ve dominated games and created chances. Iceland will line up similarly to Slovakia and Russia and probably play 10 men behind the ball and counter attack us. As long as we can break them down we’ll be through to play against teams who will try beat us, opening up space for us to prosper.


Some thoughts from Ed
A few thoughts on the end of the group stage:

*Football, bl00dy hell.

I wrote that after Hungary v Portugal, and seeing the conclusion of Iceland v Austria, but any Irish fans reading this can have it too. This was football at its most fun. This group had the least cynicism of any, with possibly only one player who wasn’t content to just be in the tournament and give it their best shot.

That said, few people appear to be having as much fun as Gabor Kiraly.

*The third games in the group always involve a choice on the part of the viewer. Having chosen previously to watch France-Switzerland, Wales-Russia, Northern Ireland-Germany, Spain-Croatia, and then Hungary-Portugal, I then saw my first really duff game in Belgium-Sweden. Can’t win ‘em all, especially if you support Crystal Palace.

*Balazs “Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V” Dzsudzsak is Europe’s new king of deflected shots. I have decided. This one was largely down to utter laziness on the part of Nani (I know, I was shocked too), who when “trying” to block a shot simply did his best impression of someone on a 5-a-side losing by 10 goals and generally not being @r$ed any more.

*Not that Cristiano Ronaldo needed the extra motivation, but if he did, he would have found it in the news that on Tuesday night Lionel Messi became Argentina’s all-time leading scorer; amusingly for fans of schadenfreude, Messi’s record-breaking goal came from a free kick. Ronaldo’s own record-breaking goal was a moment of sheer impudence, that only the very best players would even think about attempting.

*Before the tournament started, my wife, son and I did a “predict the standings” at the end of the group stage. My wife got 5 correct places, while I managed to get 8. My son, managed 9, including a perfect prediction of Group F. He’s 4 years old, and just to complete the Lawro impression, the other day he started sulking because he had to watch some football instead of what he wanted to watch.
The literary Ed Quoththeraven


Little Fekir
I’ve been thinking this for a while, but it’s now even more clearly on (after the Vardy rejection) – Nabil Fekir to Arsenal.

This was rumoured a year or two back, but since then he has gotten himself seriously injured and has after his return been out of the Lyon team due to fitness and attitude problems.

Vital statistics – small, 22, French, injury prone, can play 9, 10 or on the wing, goal-scorer but also creator.

You heard it here first.
Fur, AFC, Sandton (not actually ITK at all; also brackets/parentheses at the end)


Viva Iceland
I haven’t been published in a good four or five years but now that we have officially been lined up against Iceland I thought it was a good opportunity to explain why I will be happy win or lose against them.

It goes back to when I was a young 2nd year at University, when through a friend of a friend I was offered the chance to go and be paid to play football in Iceland (don’t get too excited it was 3rd division at the time). I was sent one long facebook message from the coach, and I accepted, within an hour he had sent me my easyjet boarding pass and the day after my final exam I was flying out there. Excited but nervous I was greeted at Reykjavik airport by the teams CAM, nice lad who worked in Reykjavik and traveled to games and he offered me a tour of the city, it lasted approximately 15 minutes culminating in me trying the “best hot dog in Iceland” from what can only be described as a garden shed.

I subsequently got my internal flight on an 16 man questionable plane with me and some other bearded chap to fly to Seydisfjordur. At the airport I was then met by the coach, who looked just like his facebook pictures which helped – he then walked me over to his car which had a huge dent in it. He told me not to worry that it was just a deer… then when he saw my face then gently reassured me that it is okay because it had tasted delicious. I got over my fear, got in the car, and was driven to my all expense paid for flat in Seydis. To put it in perspective, the town’s population had 800 people.

I was not the only Englishman there, there were three others, two were sacked after a month due to bad attitude. We trained daily, in between two mountains on an immaculately kept pitch which the players helped to maintain. The whole town would pitch in, on game days, there was a van driving round with a megaphone to remind everyone of the big game and inevitably at least half the town who weren’t out fishing would turn up. This was Huginn FC. We would drive to games avoiding sheep on the mountains. We would spend the Friday afternoon as a team painting the white lines and mowing the grass or having team bonding sessions going up to the Geysers, the natural hot water pools or mountain climbing. We trained daily, sometimes twice a day – and the coach had played division one so was exceptionally knowledgeable and passionate. I wondered before I got there how this small town could afford to be plucking average English players from obscurity (me) to come and play in a tiny village in East Iceland and as it turned out it was the Town that paid, effectively a tax. I was at Iceland’s division three Real Madrid and I was Jonathan Woodgate. In case you are wondering they are now division 1. Also name drop, Ben Stiller filmed the Secret Life of Walter Mitty there, and I got to help – by not letting people leave the supermarket when director started filming.

I look a bit Icelandic I guess, Eidur Gudjohnson was my nickname at school – but it’s easy to stick out like a sore thumb in a town of 800 people. But they welcomed me, and they supported football more than I had ever seen in England. They all supported an English team and would show me pictures of their tours of Anfield and Old Trafford.

I guess there wasn’t too much point to this story other than it was a batsh*t mental experience and the people there are amazing and unbelievably passionate about football therefore I would be more than happy to see them progress. Áfram Island.
Grant (24 Hour sunlight is mental)

p.s. sorry for waffling as i reminisced – this was more for me than you.

More Related Articles