After a very decent opening 25 minutes the Republic of Ireland fell back into a predictable, long ball type game against Sweden in last Friday’s World Cup qualifier.
And Giovanni Trapattoni’s men ultimately paid the price for a lack of imagination and invention.
The sad thing is that Sweden are not a good side (indeed they are very average) and, with a better selection of Irish players, could have been defeated.
Ireland’s strategy of pressing and harassing the Swedes in the first quarter of the game looked to be a winner as the boys in green took a deserved lead through top scorer, Robbie Keane.
However, as anyone involved in football will tell you, the type of high energy game deployed by the Irish is very difficult to maintain over the 90 minutes.
When Sweden equalised Trapattoni should surely have looked at something different to unlock their defence which looked vulnerable at times.
With James McCarthy practically anonymous, the game cried out for the likes of a Wes Hoolahan or Robbie Brady but instead we just got more of the same.
I know it’s easy to be critical after the game, but it’s common sense that if Plan A doesn’t work then one must switch to Plan B.
Trapattoni doesn’t seem to think that way and uses substitutes as like for like.
Some originality of thought and a bit of boldness might have seen Ireland get something from the game but under the present manager that isn’t going to happen.
The 74-year-old Italian woke-up on Sunday morning to newspaper headlines speculating over his successor, with former Sunderland manager Martin O’Neill the bookmakers’ favourite.
Trapattoni’s current deal is due to expire at the end of the qualifying campaign, however, his assistant manager, Marco Tardelli launched a strong defence of Trapattoni and said the Irish boss would happily extend his stay as the Republic manager if given the opportunity.
I get the sense from the Irish fans that they don’t mind getting beat if the team has given it their best shot but to go down tamely is not acceptable.
The players gave a lot of effort but at this level the bit of class that makes the difference was missing.
This one will go down as an opportunity missed but locally fans will have been pleased with the performance of our own James McClean who looked like getting back to his old self.
The Republic now need to defeat Austria tonight (Tuesday) and win away at group leaders Germany to maintain any hope of making the World Cup finals in Brazil next year.