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Another wasted trip for Hoolahan

PUBLISHED: 08:05 01 June 2013

Wes Hoolahan in action against Manchester City.

Wes Hoolahan in action against Manchester City.

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I’m sure I am not alone in having spent valuable energy drumming my fingers through a large swathe of the England v Republic of Ireland game in midweek.

I admit, I missed the first half because of work, but I’m assured that gainful employment was preferable to what was going on at Wembley.

However, with half-time resuming I awaited the arrival of one Wesley Hoolahan, well known to this parish as something of a Wizard on the football pitch.

But as the minutes ticked by the Twitter feed was proof itself that I wasn’t the only one waiting for two things: some excitement from England, and the introduction of the our Wesley.

Time passed and still no sign.

Then came some movement .. and on came Simon Cox for Robbie Keane. Championship player for jet-lagged 32-year-old who plies his trade in the MLS.

A few minutes later came James McClean for Aiden McGeady. Premiership for Russian league.

By this time I was starting to get a little twitchy. Surely Giovanni Trapattoni couldn’t keep Wes on the bench all night? How many subs were they allowed?

More movement on the bench - and then came Jeff Hendrick (Derby, Championship) for Glenn Whelan (Stoke, Premier League). And then came Conor Sammon (Derby, Championship) for Jonathan Walters (Stoke, Premier League). Here I must make a point. Conor Sammon and Jonathan Walters? I don’t care what the tactics are, what the score is, what on earth Trapattoni was aiming to achieve. Leaving Hoolahan on the bench while either one of those was on the field is an absolute travesty. A joke. Frankly, by then I’d given up. Twitter, meanwhile, was buzzing. Even Wes’ team-mates were non-plussed.

“Seriously how has Wes not played at least half hour! Been great this season and was unreal against city last day of season. #GetWessiOn” – that was r Elliott Bennett’s view.

John Ruddy: “Baffled as to how Wes can’t get off the bench for Ireland?!! #shambles”

Incidentally, I spotted one website which appeared to have a little dig at those of Wes’ “friends” who “just can’t understand why the playmaker isn’t the first name on Giovanni Trapattoni’s team-sheet”.

“It’s almost as if Hoolahan’s friends are not completely impartial when it comes to his international prospects. I bet his mum thinks he should be playing as well. Shame on you, Trapattoni...”

Forgive the stains - it’s sarcasm.

Not sure who the author is, but perhaps he or she isn’t a regular NCFC watcher, because they would know what Wes is all about. Have a look next time before you jump in, eh?

Anyway ... Wes won’t be the only talented, mercurial,’luxury’ player who has struggled to impress a manager.

Years ago Rodney Marsh fell out with the then England manager Sir Alf Ramsey, a man with a pragmatic view towards football: the men he employed did a job, no more, no less. They were effective. That was all that was needed. The little bits of fluff around the outside weren’t necessary because they didn’t achieve much, even if they might keep the fans interested. Marsh had the fluff: but he also had an answer for everything. His after dinner speeches include a naughty story of a quip in the England dressing room which didn’t sit well with the England manager. The pair were chalk and cheese. Consequently, Marsh played just nine times for his country.

Frank Worthington was another of the Champagne Charlie brigade: a truly wonderful footballer, and flamboyant too. Result: eight England caps. Stan Bowles (five caps), Charlie George (one) and the ridiculously gifted Tony Currie (17). All mavericks, all talents of which we saw all too little.

I’m not putting Hoolahan in the same bracket, just suggesting that there is a phobia of the talented players, the artists who do things that no one else on the pitch can do.

And don’t tell me Wes is a luxury player: in the last couple of years he has added a lot to his game: his work rate is very good, he gets back and tries to defend and tackle – not easy for a player of his stature – and he isn’t one of those who is afraid to get a bit of mud on his shorts. Not that you will see that when he sits on the bench all night.


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