Hope of the Hopeless

Persistence is futile
Share |

Allow me to set the mood. Until recently, next door had a cat. Technically they still have him—it's just that they now keep him two feet beneath their back garden. In his pre-death state, he was a narky bugger. He was the kind of cat who would let you stroke him and then bite your finger to show you who was boss. This made you suspicious of him, which made him even more suspicious of you, and on it would go, an endless cycle of cross-species contempt. You'd open the back door and see him there, glaring at you; you'd glare back, and a disrespectful distance would be kept. But in his last days, the old bastard acted strangely. When you opened the back door, he'd come rushing in. Maybe he was seeking protection from the ruthless cat-on-cat fights in which he was now a guaranteed loser. Maybe he just wanted somewhere warm and comfortable to draw his terminal. It was a sad scene. The next day, his owners were asking around for a spade and a pickaxe.

So yeah, Giovanni Trapattoni's Ireland lost 6-1 at home to Germany last Friday. I'm pretty sure it was six, anyway—at some blurry point in the second half, proceedings took on a woozy, surreal quality. Germany were queuing up to shoot, scoring with dreamlike ease as if the ball were made of cloud and its trajectory a rainbow spraying a mist of golden kittens. They didn't even bother celebrating properly, no doubt too blissed out to do anything but smile a goofy smile and walk back to their own half to do it all again. Or maybe they were just embarrassed. Because Germany were very, very good, whereas Ireland were ... well, bad doesn't seem strong enough; it doesn't have the heft to convey the precise quality of Ireland's next-door's-terminally-ill-cat display. They looked beyond redemption, seeking somewhere to lay themselves down and wait until it was all over.

On the plus side, it was a record home defeat for Ireland, so at least we got to see history in the making, right?

Those of you who could stomach my bellyaching may recall my dispatches during the summer, when Ireland played in the European Championships and became the first team to finish 17th in a 16-team tournament. (You can relive said howls in every pitiful detail by clicking on my name above and scrolling down to May and June—if you dare.) But things have gotten worse since then, which is some achievement.

The worst thing about it all is that once, in Trapattoni's first two years in charge, there was hope. In the second leg of the 2010 World Cup play-off against France, Ireland turned in one of their greatest performances. It ended, um, iffily, but defeat notwithstanding, it offered up (to anyone not busy boycotting the baguette rack and people called Henry) a vision of a brilliant future. It was full of life; it was bold, even daring at times. Ireland tried to make the game their own. The performance was laced with some desperation, it's true (France had won the first leg). But the task now was surely to use it as a reference point, to figure out how to replicate its spirit and technicalities without having to inflict pain upon themselves first.

But from the Euro 2012 qualifiers on, they started doing the opposite: they inflicted the pain and reaped no benefit. I never thought it possible for a team to play with a complete absence of style, but Trapattoni's Ireland have managed it. I don't just mean "style" in an approving way: I mean any style whatsoever. The fierce desire to try not to play any part in determining the shape of the game is impressive. (Of course, a kick in the head is impressive.) Everything is determined by how the opposition want to play, and how lucky they feel. It's rope-a-dope without the retaliation. It's not even ugly.

Ireland played almost all of their qualifying opponents this way, from Russia to Andorra. In the group phase, there wasn't a single match in which you could say that Ireland actually played well. There wasn't a single match in which you could say that Ireland played at all. Ireland faced enough poor opposition that qualification was nonetheless secured, as was a fatally bad habit, which brought Ireland down in Poland.

Of course it did. Looked at rationally, Ireland's Euros were utterly predictable. The only reason to have believed otherwise was because of that last residual smear of hope at the bottom of the jar: hope based on no evidence, that get-through-the-day-and-wait-for-a-bright-tomorrow kind of hope. With that rinsed away by the Euros, July was the natural time for Trapattoni to go, or be made go. But he decided to stay on his massive contract, half of which is paid for by the billionaire businessman Denis O'Brien. It's so big, the cash-starved Football Association of Ireland seemingly couldn't budge him. So the groove which became a rut is now a trench. The terrible Trap puns which have plagued the Irish sports pages for four years finally have their shining moment.

Last month, Ireland opened their World Cup qualifying group with a deeply, deeply awful effort against sixth seed Kazakhstan. Two late goals, which were presumably occasioned by Trapattoni furtively swigging an entire bottle of holy water, sealed a win for the worse team. And then there was Germany.

And then there was Trapattoni, yet again saying that there were no excuses, before offering a list of them: Germany are invincible, I had too many players injured, my players didn't do what I told them to do, my players are crap anyway, what do you expect me to do about it?To people suggesting he should go, he replies that one bad game doesn't make a crisis. Maybe this is a way forward for management, Trapattoni's version of Zeno's tortoise paradox: if one bad game isn't a crisis, then neither is an infinite succession of one-bad-games. All your problems solved with just one simple twist of logic and a big pile of bullshit.

Diana Moskovitz's excellent piece hereabouts on being a fan of baseball's failingest team, the Pittsburgh Pirates, reminded me of one of my favourite words in the American sports lexicon: futility. (In my experience at least, it's more often used over there than it is here.) Diana doesn't invoke it—she seems too optimistic of disposition, or maybe twenty years of misery forces you to be optimistic against reason. But futile is the hefty word I was looking for way back in paragraph 2. For the poor, suffering fan (because that's what this is really about), there's nothing to cling on to. Trapattoni's defenders have claimed that given what he has to work with, he's done as might be expected—that to demand more is unrealistic and the product of an entitled mindset. But that's not the point at all. It's so, so not it. The team is failing to fulfil the most basic demand of the fan, and surely of themselves: to do something. Anything. To show they realise that every match is a gamble of sorts and to risk something in the immediate term, instead of risking everything in the long term. To show some sign of life. To give hope. To give false hope. To give hope that promises everything even when you know it'll deliver nothing, but you don't care because you got to fool yourself for a second or two. I was going to say "to do something to make the spirit soar" (I mistakenly typed "sore" just then), but things are so desperate now I'd settle for the spirit doing that crap David Blaine levitation trick. Or tripping over itself. Or just twitching.

All hope in Trapattoni's Ireland died in the summer. The listlessness and lack of fight are too ingrained for him to reverse. But there he remains, trying the same things over and over again and ... what? Expecting different results? Does he even care anymore? Surely he can tell the difference between a live animal and a re-animated corpse?

Ireland play the Faroe Islands tonight. Nothing good can come of this game. They might win in by-now traditional style, in which case it's same old same old same old same old. They might win more emphatically, which you could say is just one step up from the minimum requirement when you're playing the team of a country whose entire population could fit into your national stadium. Or they might lose. In which case... Well, rumour has it the FAI are looking to get rid of Trapattoni this week regardless. But it's impossible to be triumphal about the prospect. We're all a bit bewildered right now. We need a lie down.


Share |

Comments

Thank you so much for the post you do. I like your post and all you share with us is up to date and quite informative, i would like to bookmark the page so i can come here again to read you, as you have done a wonderful job..Love Traction Lines

I would like to try. I want to know first if the plan could also work for people with a certain health condition. jaipur to delhi taxi

This is an excellent post I seen thanks to share it. It is really what I wanted to see hope in future you will continue for sharing such a excellent post...LoveTraction Lines Review

The user is no longer writing to it, and DirectSound has not yet taken control of it. הסעות מלוטון ללונדון

Perez said she no longer practices Judaism and said it was always more of a cultural identity than a religion.watchseries

I found this is an informative and interesting post so i think so it is very useful and knowledgeable . Hook your ex system download

It sounds like something I would like to try. I want to know first if the plan could also work for people with a certain health condition.helpful hints

Thank you, Adam, for who you are, and for spreading kindness and generosity through the corporate and academic worlds. ...Revolutionary Sex PDF

That just absolutely made my day. I'm going to use this in a talk I'm giving tonight to a whole lot of parents ... so let those bright lights know that their ripples are spreading across the ocean!instagram followers
|buy instagram likes

It looks like you spend a lot of effort and time on your blog. I have bookmarked it and I am looking forward to reading new articles. Keep up the good work......venus factor book pdf

ruthless cat-on-cat fights in which he was now a guaranteed loser. Maybe he just wanted somewhere warm and comfortable to draw his terminal. It was a sad scene. The next day, his owners were asking around for a spade and a pickaxe.
lebanon escorts

The next day, his owners were asking around for a spade and a pickaxe.m88

I needed to much obliged in your time for this sublime read!! I decidedly getting a charge out of every tad bit of it and I have you bookmarked to look at new stuff you weblog post. race car bunk beds

I really enjoyed reading this post, big fan. Keep up the good work and please tell me when can you publish more articles or where can I read more on the subject ...paleo grubs

I found this is an informative and interesting post so i think so it is very useful and knowledgeable. I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article...penguin method free download

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog, I will keep visiting this blog very often...Capture His Heart And Make Him Love You Forever

Try instead adding a dash of Churchill to your Hitchcock - his exhortation 'Action this day!' offers new leaders the best chance of getting off to a flying start. virtual private network software

Something disappointed him and he rolled his head through the kinks in his neck, which cracked loudly. He was gone a few seconds later. movers and packers in pune

i think so it is very useful and knowledgeable. I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article. http://learntogetridof.com/acne-scar-removal-101/

The fierce desire to try not to play any part in determining the shape of the game is impressive. (Of course, a kick in the head is impressive.) Everything is determined by how the opposition want to play, and how lucky they feel. It's rope-a-dope without the retaliation. It's not even ugly.
escort in lebanon

I will definitely bookmark your website. I am happy to found such useful and interesting post which is written in well manner.I really increased my knowledge after read you....head soccer

I just found this blog and have high hopes for it to continue. Keep up the great work, its hard to find good ones. I have added to my favorites. Thank You... http://clashofclanshacks4u.com/

the ruthless cat-on-cat fights in which he was now a guaranteed loser. Maybe he just wanted somewhere warm and comfortable to draw his terminal. It was a sad scene. The next day, his owners were asking around for a spade and a pickaxe.
lebanon escorts

Wonderful article. I liked reading this and I was really impressed by this. I just wish that you can keep this marvelous consistent work going on!web marketing services

Sólo tendrá que seleccionar el vehículo de que desee y confirmar su reserva examine uno de nuestros agentes en una de nuestras sucursales durante el horario comercial. found here

A very awesome blog post. We are really grateful for your blog post. You will find a lot of approaches after visiting your post. I was exactly searching for. Thanks for such post and please keep it up..MovieTube

Or maybe they were just embarrassed. Because Germany were very, very good, whereas Ireland were ... well, bad doesn't seem strong enough; it doesn't have the heft to convey the precise quality of Ireland's next-door's-terminally-ill-cat display. They looked beyond redemption, seeking somewhere to lay themselves down and wait until it was all over.
exchange Ecuador coins

A very awesome blog post. We are really grateful for your blog post. You will find a lot of approaches after visiting your post.Forskothin reviews

Nice to be visiting your blog again, it has been months for me. Well this article that i’ve been waited for so long. I need this article to complete my assignment in the college, and it has same topic with your article. Thanks, great share. credit repair services affiliate programs

The men still talk inanely but now even the most banal things they say are charged with an underlying tension. Such is the power of suspense..2 broke girls stream

Also, in his post you have given a chance to listen about US Military. I really appreciate your work. Thanks for sharing itwhere do i find garcinia cambogia

Thanks a lot for sharing this amazing knowledge with us. This site is fantastic. I always find great knowledge from it.. tradeshow bags

I know that you explain it very well. And I hope that other readers will also experience how I feel after reading your article. I feel very grateful that I read this. It is very helpful and very informative and I really learned a lot from it....
real instagram likes
| how to get 500 followers on instagram

I definitely enjoying every little bit of it. It is a great website and nice share. I want to thank you. Good job! You guys do a great blog.read full article

This is very educational content and written well for a change. It's nice to see that some people still understand how to write a quality post!refinance a car loan

Because the admin of this web site is working, no question very soon it will be famous, due to its quality contents seo service

Because the admin of this web site is working, no question very soon it will be famous, due to its quality contents. mannequine

I always prefer to read the quality content and this thing I found in you post. next page

mypsychicadvice gemini traits The Gemini Horoscope Traits Zodiac Signs - mypsychicadvice.com
mypsychicadvice gemini traits The Gemini Horoscope Traits Zodiac Signs

The world is changing fast. people are also being changed.day by day we are becoming more dependant on degital system.yoU make me think of this really. house inspection

I continuously keep on coming to your site again just in case you have posted new contents. car wash company

It аlmoѕt three time. Yоu served mе а lot іndeed аnd analyzing this уour publish I hаve fоund mаnу nеw аnd uѕеful information abоut this topic.read full article

HEre we get to read about the detailed script on the challenges which the biomaterials in urology faces. The design specification and things associated with it are neatly given over here. USA Tumblr accounts

Vom einfachsten Bilderhaken bis hin zur Bildaufhängung mit Diebstahlschutz. Wir als Bilderrahmenprofi haben .. delhi to jaipur taxi

Wonderful article. I liked reading this and I was really impressed by this. I just wish that you can keep this marvelous consistent work going on!click for source

Learn how to deal with the symptoms and outcomes of a disease or learn how to detect a disease early and up your chances of getting rid of it. Best Product Marketing Strategy

I like viewing web sites which comprehend the price of delivering the excellent useful resource free of charge. I truly adored reading your posting. Ecig

But things have gotten worse since then, which is some achievement.joanns coupons

treatment center will significantly aid you in sobriety. There are thousands of great facilities that are well equipped to handle drug and alcohol rehabilitation, but the right facility requires patience and persistence to find. We have compiled one of the largest and most comprehensive lists of rehab’s from around the country
cheap price blog comments

It аlmoѕt three time. Yоu served mе а lot іndeed аnd analyzing this уour publish I hаve fоund mаnу nеw аnd uѕеful information abоut this topic...St Jude Childrens Research Hospital