THE GREAT, THE GOOD, THE IFFY AND PISH ALL IN ONE – IT’S TIME FOR THE 4 AYES WITH MARTIN FRIEL
With Thursday’s result at Hampden still raw, I’m steering well clear of any Scotland chat this week. However, putting our own heartbreak aside, the international weekend created some fairytales and nightmares across the globe.
A couple of our close neighbours will keep Euro 2016 coverage from being it’s usual England centric pish, whilst our pals in the US and Greece are pure ragin’.
Aye, Pure Belter
Wales are going to France. We’ve been expecting this for a while, but they still deserve a huge amount of praise. Gareth Bale has lived up to his price tag and pulled his nation through a really tricky group. What I’d give for Scotland to have someone who could do that for us. No pressure messers Christie and Gauld, honest….
However, the guy that really deserves praise is Chris Coleman, a manager who has gone up and up in my estimation over the past year. Wales’ defensive record is the envy of Europe, only 4 goals conceded in 9 games, 2 of which were in Saturday’s match against Bosnia. Not to mention Coleman has had to follow on from one of British football’s worst tragedies in recent times, the loss of Gary Speed.
I don’t know much about Welsh football and I’m not going to start pretending, so I hunted around for an article that put some meat on the bone as to how Wales have got to where they are. This one from Wales Online is very poignant, well worth a read (after you’ve finished this article of course!).
One final thing to note, when it comes to picking your Euro 2016 anthem, granted Wales you’re spoiled for choice. But if you chose the Stereophonics ahead of the Manic Street Preachers, all my goodwill towards your endeavours next summer will cease to exist.
Aye, Fair Do’s
Credit where it’s due, not only are Northern Ireland going to France next year; they have finished top of Group F after picking up a point against Finland on Sunday. 21 points from 10 games is a terrific haul from qualification.
Some might reflect that Group F was easy. Trust me, when Josh Magennis is your replacement striker, nothing in life is easy. Fair play to the big man though, he took his header well and has put his name in the hat for the Euros squad next summer.
As is the case with Chris Coleman, Michael O’Neill is getting plenty slaps on the back. Northern Ireland have not only been effective and well drilled, they’ve played some entertaining football throughout the campaign.
Paddy McCourt, you’ve got 6 months to pack in the soda bread and Guinness, get yourself fit and on form, and you might, just might, get to carry Niall McGinn’s bag onto the Ryanair flight to Paris Beauvais.
Maybes Aye, Maybes Naw
Has Jurgen Klinsmann walked yet, at the time of writing he hasn’t, but he really should jack it. USA’s 3-2 extra time defeat to Mexico in the CONCACAF Final means the soccer dudes will miss out on a spot in the Confederations Cup. This might not sound a big deal to us Europeans, but when you consider the US were papped out of the Olympics qualification by Honduras recently, it paints a pretty bleak picture. You knows it’s bad when Alejandro Bedoya (aye mind him), has been your most productive player in the last 12 months.
One of the main reasons Jurgen may keep his job is that he received a great big stinking extension to his contract up until 2018. Das ist sehr schon Herr Klinsmann, however you don’t deserve a penny.
Aye Right, Get in the Sea
Greece, what’s going on lads. 3 points from 9 games, you’re behind the Faroe Islands in your group, that’s not cool. It’s your job to gee up the nation whilst ultra austerity continues to kick the general public in the nads. Take a look at yourself, pull your socks up and start taking football seriously, or I swear to god I’ll send Angela Merkel down there to nab your wages.