It was indeed, as stated on Sky TV’s coverage, “a goal good enough to win any game”. Although from such giddy heights of euphoria, it was that much further to fall when the Slovaks equalised in injury time.
If I were a drinker I would’ve joined all the other Ireland fans, filling my pint glass with my lachrymose lamentations for the remainder of the night.
Perhaps Stan Staunton’s side were guilty of switching off in the dying throes of Saturday’s game, yet to my mind the Slovak’s equaliser might well have been a symptom of a more widespread disease amongst successful young players these days, that often appears to result in their underachievement on the International stage.
With rewards beyond their wildest dreams on offer at such a tender age, it’s perhaps not surprising that some of them begin to believe in their own publicity, certain they only have to turn up for their ability to win out, against European football’s lesser lights.
However the gap between the major and minor footballing nations continues to diminish and the ‘haves’ are all the more easily embarrassed by the hell or high water hunger of the ‘have nots’.
Then again it wouldn’t be the Boys in Green if they went about their four-point objective the easy way. We can but pray that everybody’s blood is pumping for all the right reasons in Prague tonight!
Domestically it’s likely to be a long week waiting for our trip down the wrong end of the Seven Sisters Rd on Saturday.
Sadly Gilberto will have a lot further to travel, after Brazil meet Mexico in a pointless friendly in Foxboro, USA in the wee hours of Thursday morning. Hopefully Arsene’s planning on contradicting his ‘one day rest for every hour of time difference’ principle, to avail ourselves of the reassuring presence of the Brazilian captain.
As for the team Wenger puts out against Tottenham, perhaps the crucial question is who we’d prefer to see trotting out in the keeper’s jersey.
Almunia might have never let us down, but neither he, nor Jens commands the sort of respect required to radiate an unruffled aura of calm, out from behind our defence. Then again, Spurs own jittery keeper has hardly been inspiring them with confidence of late and I’m certainly not complaining, after having secured the single most significant signing this week, with the knowledge that Wenger intends to stay at the Arsenal for another 3 years.
I don’t think it was a coincidence that le Gaffer’s signature was timed to offer his returning players the reassuring boost of retaining their much-revered boss (not that Arsene was planning on going anywhere else!).
Maintaining an air of stability within the camp is perhaps all the more vital, with all the off-pitch intrigue surrounding the Gunner’s future at present.
You couldn’t possibly make it up and if by any chance we should get bored with the Wengerball taking place on the pitch, unlike Spurs, we have no need of Eastenders to amuse ourselves, with this soap opera of our very own, that’s set to run and run!
By coincidence this weekend’s Derby marks the start of the jewish New Year. Here’s hoping that we’re left savouring the traditional apple & honey, with its promise of a sweet season, while they have to suffer the habitual taste of bitter herbs!
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