there can be no greater indictment of both the current manager and his predecessor than the oft-repeated statistic about Kilbane's remarkable run of starts in the Irish jersey.To be fair, Staunton is only the latest to see talent in Kilbane invisible to the population in general.
It would take a very creative film editor indeed to produce a memorable collection of highlights from the million or so caps the Wigan midfielder appears to have amassed. We'd have him doing the thing where he pushes the ball between a couple of defenders and falls over, the one where he puts his head down and runs the ball out over the line, the one where he kicks the ball too far ahead of himself and loses possession. The crowning glory could be the moment on Wednesday night when he jumped up in the air and turned his arse to the ball as Marek Jankulovski set about engineering the winner.
Nobody likes criticising Kilbane, he's got a lovably helpless set to him like a willing and affectionate dog you can't train to do anything you want.
Forget that canard about him being limited by our lack of world class players. While we were trying to take some solace from our latest gallant defeat, Scotland were beating France 1-0 in Paris. The Scots currently lead a group that contains the two teams which contested the last World Cup final, France and Italy, not to mention the Ukraine side which reached the quarter-finals of that tournament and are greatly superior to the flaky Czechs.Then our anonymous accuser delivers the coup de grace:
You see, John, the reason most of us are impatient with your appointee is that nobody had much faith in him when he was appointed. His complete lack of managerial experience made him look like a man who didn't deserve the job. The only encouraging thing we could find to say was that old Hollywood line, "This idea is so crazy, it might just work." It was crazy. But it didn't work. The burden of proof was on Steve Staunton and he merely proved himself incapable.
Forget all that populist crap about managers not being able to go on to the pitch and do the job for the players. Managers matter. Look at the miracle Lawrie Sanchez achieved with Northern Ireland and how quickly everything returned to ashes when he was replaced by Nigel Worthington. Nobody, but nobody, argues that Steve Staunton is an addition to the Irish set-up. The best his supporters can do is claim that he's not an actual hindrance.
EM Forster once said: "If I had the choice between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the courage to betray my country." Those are noble sentiments but you don't have that luxury. Steve Staunton happens to be a friend of yours but you are charged with the well-being of soccer in this country. If you want to behave in an honourable manner to your friend, I applaud your integrity. But you'll have to be honourable on your own time. The really honourable thing to do in those circumstances would be to step aside and let someone who can make this difficult decision take over.