THE DEADEST OF DEAD RUBBER INTERNATIONAL WINDOWS

There was a genuine feeling of apathy at yesterday’s press conference. The Ireland manager looked jaded. Carrying the weight of a nation can do that. A weight soon to be lifted come next week. 

I would say it was a gentle back-and-forth, polite even. We heard talk of debuts. We heard how the style of football had changed. “How can we turn slender losses into results?” – that kind of thing. At one point, I thought someone was going to ask how the family were doing. 

There is no point in scrutinising a decent man on the way out. I didn’t even ask a question myself. 

I cannot help but think that this international window is the deadest of dead rubbers. You would have to go back a long time to think of a lower ebb in Irish football. The only real impact we can have tonight is postponing automatic Dutch qualification by avoiding defeat – until they hammer Gibraltar on Tuesday.

For ourselves? We are out. Truth be told, we were never really in.

I think, in time, history will be kind to Stephen Kenny for the way he has introduced younger talent. The plan was and is sound. The execution, however, was poor, contradictory, and muddling. 

We saw some shoots of green until we got found out. And not for the first time, the manager failed to adapt and sweep away the dead wood. However, as bad as things are right now, the future is still bright. 

Back to tonight and a return to the Johan Cruyff Arena after nearly 20 years. A beautiful stadium and a real homage to the great history of Ajax – a proper club. Funnily enough, the last time we played here a brilliant solo effort from Robbie Keane sealed a famous win. 

It’s unlikely that feat will be repeated tonight unless, we can get some service to our latest wunderkind – Evan Ferguson. For too many games, the 19-year-old has been used poorly.

I really want to see Andy Moran play a part tonight. A proper part, not five minutes. The 20-year-old creative midfielder is currently on loan at Blackburn Rovers from Brighton and has taken life at Ewood Park by the horns. 

Originally part of the Under-21s, until a host of doubts and injuries curtailed Kenny’s attacking options. 

If he doesn’t, then Jim Crawford would have every right to be furious with Kenny.

It promises to be a cracking atmosphere in the Dutch Capital. The Irish have travelled, as you’d expect for a wild weekend in Amsterdam, a beautiful city. However, I fear that Tuesday will be anything but.

David, The Green Machíne Podcast

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