Category: Archive

Soccer Scene: Irish managers reach FA, Champions League quarterfinals

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Joseph Behan John Aldridge and his Tranmere Rovers have done it again in the FA Cup and are now in the quarterfinals away to Liverpool. Paul Rideout’s hat trick saw the Rovers achieve one of the best comebacks ever in the competition. Liverpool are on fire after winning the Worthington Cup and reaching the UEFA quarterfinals. Aldo is for sure up against it now and it certainly seemed that way against Southampton after 45 minutes. Matters seemed bleak enough when Dean Richards bundled the ball home in the dying minutes of the first half to give Southampton a 3-nil lead against Tranmere. Surely this was the end of Rovers’ incredible run of beating its seventh premier side in 18 months. It was now down to Aldo’s 10-minute halftime talk to stay in the Cup and Paul Rideout was about to prove just how inspirational Aldridge could be. Rideout, no stranger to Cup feats, hit a hat trick to level things up. Scorer of the wining goal for Everton in the 1995 FA Cup, Rideout once again popped up in the 59th minute to spark a comeback both on a personal and team level against Southampton. The experienced striker showed his opportunism as he poached his first goal in the midst of traffic in Southampton’s box. Ten minutes later he caught Hoddle’s defense napping as he pounced on a near post header to spring the ball past Southampton’s keeper Paul Jones. Turning out to be a worthy captain fantastic Rideout notched his third, which set up Stuart Barlow for his winner with seven minutes remaining. Aldo and Rovers shocked Southampton and sent yet another premier side crashing out of the cup. Comebacks continue for John Aldridge as the ex-Liverpool legend will now make a trip down memory lane to the formidable Anfield Road in the quarterfinals of the cup. Liverpool beat Roma in UEFA and won on penalties against Birmingham in the Worthington.Leeds United 4, Anderlecht 1 David O’Leary, like Aldridge, is pulling out all the stops in the Champions League with this convincing win and a quarterfinal berth alongside Real Madrid. Leeds were battling in the league but perhaps the Yorkshire youth have turned things around after beating Spurs at White Lane, the first team to do so this season. “It’s nice to answer some of the critics who were so quick to jump on our backs not so long ago,” the Irish manager said. Ian Harte’s penalty evened things up for a Lee Boyer winner to gain three valuable points as O’Leary surpasses his ex-mentor George Graham. Since Robbie Keane’s arrival at Elland Road, Leeds have become more consistent as Aussie Mark Viduka gets better with each game.St. Patrick’s 4, Shelbourne 1 The way St. Patrick’s Athletic celebrated their 4-1 victory over Shelbourne, it looked like the Saints marched off the field after winning the Eircom league. Shelbourne got off to a flying start and were 1-nil up within five minutes with a deadly finish by Dessy Baker. But that was about the only highlight of the first half. Both teams put little or nothing together as far as passing goes. When players received the ball with time at the back, rarely if at all supporting defenders showed wide for the ball, never mind becoming available for it. Play out of the back was absolutely non-existent. Forget about dropping a little deeper into space to maintain possession and get time to see the field for constructive attacking play. Players would rather send signals to “Get it out of here.” So the first half picked up a pattern of boredom with Shel’s Paul Doolin trying his best to make some sense of the game with short intelligent passes to set things up. It was obvious that Pat’s manager, Pat Dolan, wasn’t too impressed with his Saints and he must have crucified his players at halftime. Shels, on the other hand, probably scored too early for their own good and seemed to take the one-goal lead for granted. Dermot Keely’s Reds were in store for perhaps their most convincing defeat for a long time as far as the scoreline was concerned. St. Pat’s were awarded a penalty within 5 minutes of the restart when the inexperienced Avery John handled the ball to give Athletic the spark they needed for the game. Liam Kelly stuck the ball away from the spot and Pat’s began their assault on the holders and league leaders. The Saints began to convert some decent stuff into chances. Shel’s right side became vulnerable as they failed to get first to the ball particularly on set pieces. Pat’s confidence rose to the big occasion. Indeed, it was two corners that caught the league leaders off guard and Shels were punished severely. Kelly took his second goal really well from the Shel’s backline, but it was a true sign that Shels were well beaten and badly organized at the back. Defensive organization is a must if you don’t play ball out of back.Eircom standard needs change While it’s a good win for Pats and a result that stops Shels from a premature title, the game itself was a concern. Top Eircom teams were on stage here, but top football was most definitely not. For sure, players are not given instructions to take the ball down in their defensive third. There is no movement off the ball at the back and defenders do not want the responsibility to take over as playmaker. This is why the ball is rarely switched and the point of attack is predictable, thus the long and high ball is mostly played. Yes, we must be cautious when criticizing our league, but this observation is echoed by many a soccer fan in the Old Sod. Our peers — O’Leary, Aldridge, McCarthy, and the like — need to give a little back to the league. Furthermore, we must not underestimate public opinion on the game, which is quite sophisticated. We definitely do not want to get into the excuse that conditions are the problem. For many years soccer fans across the country have complained that the standard is desperate and way below par. Many talk about the number of gifted schoolboys and junior talent who don’t go on in the Irish game. A big season for the lack of interest in the league is indeed the style of play, and it’s those kids that don’t make it that we want to see. As long as there is not an emphasis on controlled play out of the back in particular, there is nothing for talent to look up to. the dream is not to make it in the Eircom league bur rather the English Premier. It is time to take the game more seriously as far as entertainment is concerned. Just a look at the attendance speaks in volumes and if Irish football thinks TV will make the difference, they may need to look again at the future of the game. Eircom needs roll models and most of them are abroad but not that far away. A good place to start would be involving Jackie’s heroes to get the ball rolling. These peers can continue what they started as far as changing the game for Ireland. At the minute, Brian Kerr is a key figure for the game evolving on the domestic scene in Ireland.Roundup One Irishman that has no problem speaking out regarding the sub performance of players is Roy Keane. Manchester United responded by thrashing Arsenal 6-1 after the Corkman’s public statements about certain players not putting it in at Old Trafford.

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