Once again the mighty England flattered to deceive, this time away to Poland. They stumbled their way to a 1-1 draw that keeps them top of their World Cup qualifying group for now. The English should make it to the finals in Brazil, but anyone who thinks they can win it are delusional. The England team are overhyped and overrated. Only when they accept they are mediocre will England have a chance of advancing past the quarter finals of a major tournament again. That and some penalty practice.
The Republic of Ireland showed how far they have fallen with an embarrassing home loss to Germany. Yes, Giovanni Trapattoni has made some selection missteps, but the truth is he has a poor pool of players to choose from. The Irish are devoid of real talent and the days of Paul McGrath, Roy Keane, and Liam Brady pulling on a green shirt are long gone. However, no Irish team should lose 6-1 at home, even if it was to the powerful Germans. Ireland managed to restore some pride a few days later when they won against the Faroe Islands. The result needs to be kept in perspective because the Faroese are one of the worst teams in world football. Trapattoni does not seem to be the man to help develop the next generation of Irish greats. Irish football is at a low point and needs an overhaul if it is ever to get back to the heady days of previous tournaments.
While Scotland and the Republic struggled in their games, Northern Ireland gained a modicum of respect by earning a 1-1 draw away to Portugal. It was a backs against the wall performance full of passion and desire. It was reminiscent of that glorious night in Valencia 30 years ago when a Gerry Armstrong goal helped the North beat Spain in the World Cup Finals. Had England, Scotland or the Republic shown the same attitude and desire they would have earned better results and be on the way to qualifying for Brazil 2014.
The Northern Ireland result in Portugal also makes a mockery of the suggestion that the minnow nations should have to pre-qualify for the World Cup qualifying campaign. Northern Ireland, Wales, the Faroe Islands, and the other small nations deserve the right to play at the highest level and compete against teams like Germany, England, and Portugal. Football is the people’s game and the powers that be should never lose sight of that fact.