Trapattoni versus the Free Market

Jun 11th, 2012 | By | Category: Ireland

Italia ’90 was a nation-stopping moment; there was hardly a soul in the country not watching. Staying in Oughterard in Co Galway at the time, the half time break in the dramatic match allowed a quick trip to the supermarket – the street and the shop were deserted. A solitary young woman sat at a checkout wondering how things were progressing.

Perhaps the hype raised expectations, but there was a hope this year that, if not the success of Italia ’90, there might be ‘Joxer goes to Stuttgart’ moments and there might be the thrill of a win comparable to the 1988 victory over England. Last night’s defeat against Croatia suggests prospects are bleak, but perhaps the expectations were unfair.

Look at the squad for Italia ’90, and the clubs for which they played

  • Packie Bonner Glasgow Celtic
  • Chris Morris Glasgow Celtic
  • Chris Hughton Tottenham Hotspur
  • Mick McCarthy Glasgow Celtic
  • Kevin Moran Manchester United
  • Ronnie Whelan Liverpool
  • Paul McGrath Manchester United
  • Ray Houghton Liverpool
  • John Aldridge Liverpool
  • Frank Stapleton Derby County
  • Tony Galvin Sheffield Wednesday
  • Tony Cascarino Millwall
  • Liam O’Brien Manchester United
  • David Kelly Walsall
  • Kevin Sheedy Everton
  • Gerry Peyton Bournemouth
  • John Byrne Le Havre
  • John Sheridan Leeds United
  • John Anderson Newcastle United
  • Niall Quinn Arsenal

and compare the clubs represented in the squad of two decades ago with those represented in the Ireland squad for Euro 2012.

  • Shay Given Aston Villa
  • Keiren WestwoodSunderland
  • David Forde Millwall
  • John O’Shea Sunderland
  • Richard Dunne Aston Villa
  • Sean St Ledger Leicester City
  • Stephen Ward Woverhampton Wanderers
  • Paul McShane Hull City
  • Stephen Kelly Fulham
  • Darren O’Dea Unattached
  • Keith Andrews West Bromwich Albion
  • Glenn Whelan Stoke City
  • Darron Gibson Everton
  • Damien Duff Fulham
  • Aiden McGeady Spartak Moscow
  • Stephen Hunt Woverhampton Wanderers
  • Paul Green Derby County
  • Jame McClean Sunderland
  • Robbie Keane LA Galaxy
  • Kevin Doyle Woverhampton Wanderers
  • Simon Cox West Bromwich Albion
  • Jon Walters Stoke City
  • Shane Long West Bromwich Albion

Much of the 1990 squad was drawn from clubs at the very  top of English football – three players from Liverpool, who had won the championship six times in a decade; three from Manchester United, whose era of dominance was about to begin. There were players who were household names.

The 2012 squad has not a comparable presence of players whose experience is at the top, who are playing among international players on a weekly basis. The Premier League players are mainly from mid-table English Midlands clubs. It is not that the Irish players of 2012 are any less skilled than their predecessors; perhaps it is that the places they once filled at the top of English football are now filled by players drawn from around the world. The sheer spending power of Premier League Clubs has meant that they can sign whomsoever they choose from wherever they choose, leaving Irish players deprived of the experience they might have enjoyed in former times.

Perhaps it was not so much a case of Croatia beating Ireland last night, as globalisation beating Ireland in the long run.

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