Hit | Miss | Sideline: All hail Bale, the Welsh wonder
Two words: Gareth Bale. He was simply immense for Wales in their 2-1 victory over Scotland on Friday night. He ran the Scots ragged. Yep, there is the argument about his diving, which I have spoken about previously, but he should have had two penalties and the one that he got was nailed on.
Bale gave a performance that was world class. He is still developing and he is by no means the finished article but, if he keeps progressing and when he is, he will be talked about as one of the greats. He grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck, dragged Wales along with him and his winner was pure magic. Scotland simply had no answer to him.
Will he stay at Tottenham at the end of the season? Or will he be on the move to the likes of Manchester City or Manchester United? Or even the top two Spanish teams of Barcelona and Real Madrid? I believe that he will leave Spurs at the end of the current campaign and will join one of the elite. Then, he will be up there with the best, playing with the best.
The Republic of Ireland had a night to forget on Friday as Germany toyed with them, like a cat playing with a mouse, before eventually putting it out of its misery. In this instance, 6-1. Ireland are in a transitional period now but it’s still no excuse for that result.
A lot of their big players have retired or are unavailable but still imagine that happening to England. The players would still be stuck in the stadium now! Fortunately, the Irish supporters are a forgiving bunch, but they deserved a better performance, especially after the Euro 2012 let-down.
Ireland are a good team with good players and what seems to be a good team spirit. The thing I always say is that international teams should be managed by countrymen … or at least managers who know what they are all about. Take Mick McCarthy or Jack Charlton in years gone by.
They both knew the make-up of Ireland as a country. They knew how passionate and loyal their players and supporters were and this was their strongest armour. Yes, they were underdogs for much of the time, but what they lacked in technique they more than made up for it in passion and fight.
Ireland had some exceptional players who spring to mind, like Roy Keane and Paul McGrath, but look at their overall make-up. A few world-class players and the rest – battlers, patriots. OK, Keane walked out of the 2002 World Cup finals for his own reasons, but it seemed it was because his team wasn’t treated properly and granted the preparation that they deserved.
The team now, under Giovanni Trapattoni, is similar. Lads that will fight for the cause but they also need guidance – and an Italian manager is not the answer. Just ask England. Get an Irishman in charge and get the pride back that the country so richly deserves.
I have been watching “Being: Liverpool” on Channel 5 recently and have found it very good viewing. I like Brendan Rodgers’ philosophy and mentality. He doesn’t seem a snapper, more of a deep thinker who tries to build up the majority of his players apart from those who he doesn’t believe have the right attitude.
Rodgers has sold a few players – good ones as well – but that’s football. I look at Charlie Adam, who is a great talent, and I thought that he would be right up Rodgers’ street. But he saw it otherwise. It’s great to see him giving youth a chance and I love the way he talks openly about his thoughts on the so-called simple game.
It’s not been a great start to the season for Liverpool but, given time, I think that he could create a successful team. It’s riveting viewing, in which everybody speaks freely, and it’s refreshing to see. However, as a player, I don’t know how comfortable I would feel with cameras in the dressing-room before, during and after a game.