Thursday, 20 November 2008

Northern Ireland Slump Continues

Northern Ireland continued their slide back towards mediocrity last night with a grim 2-0 reverse against an average looking Hungarian outfit. Although I did not see the whole game, I am led to believe that it was a thoroughly depressing affair. Admittedly, the Ulstermen were without a number of key players, particularly in defence. But it is the general air of negativity that Worthington emits that is beginning to rankle with large sections of the GAWA. Nothing is ever HIS fault. Last night, it was the fact that a few players are not playing regularly for their club. And yet Sanchez was faced with exactly the same problem. There does not seem to be the same level of tactical understanding, discipline and work ethic within this team as there was under Sanchez. The players appear less confident and unsure of their duties on the field. Behind the scenes, it is widely known that the standards of discipline and professionalism in the camp have declined significantly under the current regime, perhaps reflecting the lack of respect the current squad have for Worthington’s management style.

Following a disappointing opening to their World Cup group Northern Ireland will not qualify for South Africa, and sadly the short term future does not look great. The only bright note is that the U-21 team recorded a stylish 3-1 victory over Scotland on Tuesday night. After 3 years of stability and relative glory, now may be the time to start rebuilding. But I am certain that Nigel Worthington is not the right man to oversee that rebuilding.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Toddy's Tips

With the going good, good-to-soft in places, it's hard to look past 11/5 chance Randy Bishop in the 1.30 Lifetime Hurdle at Fakenham. Irish flyer King Cyrus should not be ignored in the 3.30 meet, with trainer Jim Best having returned 5 winners in as many days. Saddler Christian Williams described him as a 'feisty little number' on Friday, and he is known for landing well on soft ground. All eyes, however, are on Saturdays Betfair Chase, with former Gold Cup winner Kauto Star a scorching 2/5 favourite. Fairly measly odds, but I'd lump big on it.