The rain from Spain falls mainly in the Irish net

Morning all from the wettest place on earth, and I include the bottom of the sea in that.

The weather may suit the mood here in Ireland today after last night’s dismal showing in Euro 2012. I don’t think anybody had any realistic expectation of a result against Spain – perhaps we might have scraped a draw – but I don’t think it was unrealistic to expect them to play like professional footballers instead of last-pick in the schoolyard ‘shit, we’ve got no players and we’ve only got 7 men. Tony can you call your cousin? Yeah, the fella with the club foot and the mighty hump on his back’, Sunday league amateurs.

Of course, mistakes are made in all games but when you play a team as good as Spain they’ll punish you every time, and so it proved. The first goal was an example in how ball watching instead of ball kicking it the fuck away proves costly. Sean St Ledger guilty of that, the rest of them of pretty woeful defending. The second came from giving the ball away (Dunne, I think) and a crap punch from Shay Given followed by three blokes bamboozled by the Spanish Benayoun (they have the same sickly, jaundiced, spent their teenage years hooked up to a drip look, don’t they?).

The third came when Aidan McGeady, history’s greatest monster, gave it away carelessly in midfield and the fourth, from Cesc Fabregas, from a corner where he was given all the time in the world to collect it, round some bloke I’ve never heard of who doesn’t even have a club, before spanking it between Given and Andrews into the far corner. And all the while Robbie Keane, with his stupid big mallet head, bumbled around up front like a former Sp*rs twat.

To be fair, it was pretty much like a collection of nearly past it Premier League players, with a few Championship cloggers thrown in for good measure, playing the best team in the world. In fact, that’s exactly what it was. All the same, making those kind of mistakes in big games is just ridiculous and while I’m not that bothered one way or the other about the Ireland team, surely Trapper Tony has got to call time on some of these guys now (if he doesn’t call time on himself too).

The game against Italy on Monday should be used to give younger players a go. Forget Keane, he’s been finished for a long time. Give Shane Long a go, let James McClean have a go from the start in place of the hapless McGeady. But beyond that, it’s hard to see much of a future for the Ireland team with the current crop of players and the management set-up we have. It was a great achievement to qualify and while the Irish supporters were great last night, it’s a bit dismal that their singing is the most memorable thing about the Euro campaign.

In the other game Italy and Croatia drew 1-1. A lovely free kick from Pirlo put the Italians 1-0 up. The HD slow-mo replays are hilarious generally, the ‘urrrggh’ faces when players go up for a header are great, but this time they showed how fine the margins are between a great free kick and one which is blocked by the wall. Croatia equalised after a mistake from Chiellini (I laughed because of the fact he once crocked Robin van Persie), and it was a pretty entertaining game in all. In terms of the group Ireland are out while the other three have it all to play for.

Tonight there’s Ukraine v France (Kos on the bench while the fabled M’Vila might come back into the side), while England play Sweden. Despite starting against France, it looks as if Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will return to the bench as Roy Hodgson goes with Andy Carroll up front. It also looks as if James Milner will keep his place on the right meaning no start for Theo Walcott.

Now, I’m well aware of Theo’s inconsistencies, I think we all are, but being kept out of the team by someone as stinkingly average as Milner, and having another tournament pass him by, must surely be a sign to him that he’s got to improve. When there are options he’s overlooked and it’s entirely down to him to sort out. It might also make him reassess his position when it comes to new contract demands, but in a world in which every player is told they’re far better than they are and quite happy to believe that, I’d have my doubts.

Onto matters Arsenal, such as they are, and there are suggestions that Sebastian Squillaci could be on his way out with three French clubs (Bastia, Evian and Brest) after his signature. He’s still just 31 years of age and has had, it’s fair to say, a horrible time at the club. I know people talk about us wasting money etc etc, but when we signed him he really fit the profile of the kind of player we needed. While I might have been happier with a player more likely to challenge for the first team (and Vermaelen’s long-term injury played a part), he was an experienced player, a French international, was playing for Sevilla (then very much established in Spain’s top four), had played in European finals etc

It just shows that confidence plays a big part in how a player performs. It didn’t take long for his to ebb away almost completely and although a move away is definitely the right thing, he’s been stoic and silent under trying circumstances for any professional player. Not that I’m making excuses for him, his mistakes were costly at times, but he’s a 5th choice centre-half and I’m sure he’ll be better off elsewhere. It’s also a sign that the decks which MUST BE CLEARED are being cleared.

Other than that there’s precious little else happening. The Mirror is linking us with Salomon Kalou again. He’s a free agent but clearly still has a stupid triangle shaped head with stupid hair shavings on it and that’s enough for me to want him to be shot out of a cannon into the furthest reaches of space.

Right, that will have to do. There’s a hyperactive puppy trying to chew my feet off. Till tomorrow.

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