Arguments against Wes Hoolahan miss the point that we don't even get the best out of him 4 years ago

Arguments against Wes Hoolahan miss the point that we don't even get the best out of him

He's not Zidane.

He's 35.

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We're Ireland, for fuck sake. Get real.

Of all the arguments used to beat the enthusiasm or even the desperation out of you, that self-effacing Irishness is the worst.

The public give the media bad press sometimes when they're coming down hard on the Ireland team or exasperating at the lack of invention taking place on the field before them. The 'who do we think we are' brigade hammers in the exaggerated rhetorics that anyone who thinks we can win the World Cup is living in la-la land.

When Wes Hoolahan is used as one - and one big - example of the qualities that Ireland aren't just missing, but deliberately choosing not to use, the reaction coming back scoffs at the idea that a 35-year-old Championship player could do anything to help. You see, we're Ireland. And he's Wes Hoolahan.

Funnily enough, the exact same statements can be used to counter that same argument. We're Ireland. And he's Wes Hoolahan.

He might not be as good as Zinedine Zidane, no, and he might be past his peak, yes, but he is Irish, we are Ireland, and he is, by far and away, the country's most creative footballer.

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Ireland are so obviously a better team with Wes Hoolahan in the side. Even when he's not at his destructive best, he brings everyone else to life because he'll take the ball and he'll give it back and something as simple as his jinking and probing in and around areas of the final third soars confidence and excitement through the rest of them.

When Wes Hoolahan is there, they believe they can dominate teams when they have the ball and they actually believe they can score from open play.

The idea that you can't play him because you lose something defensively is just lazy and erroneous too. He's played crucial roles in some of the nation's biggest results and, whilst his attacking flair and composure helps the backline anyway during those games, he can also do a shift like he did in Austria for the clean sheet and like he did for 90 minutes against Germany.

Listen, if Martin O'Neill wants to play defensive football, that's fine. No-one really cares about that and, ironically, most people would understand that Ireland should do that but it's the absence of a real plan to win games that's frustrating. When O'Neill was at Villa, they were direct and they were robust but they had a thought-out process of how to get around teams with the tools they had and you don't get that with Ireland.

You don't even get the use out of Wes Hoolahan than you should in a team that the manager seems to sometimes send out to just keep it tight and hope we nick something.

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Hoolahan's not a luxury we can ill-afford. He's not a risk. The only thing that puts Ireland in any more danger is ignoring him, like we did to costly effect for the whole game against Wales, the whole game in Georgia and when we only gave him 20 minutes at home against Austria.

Right now, he's a luxury that is absolutely essential but it doesn't look like he'll play much in Cardiff.

Right now, like it has always been, whether he's ageing and whether or not he's an actual goal threat, we're not getting the most out of our most creative player.

And, Christ, we're going to need him on Monday. Even if you're willing to write the thing off and say we're only Ireland. And even if he's just Wes Hoolahan.

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