20.10.04

Hail hail the Celts are here...



I can always rationalise what has happened. I can think up any number of excuses to explain why what happened happened. There is a definite lack of resources; there is no strength in depth; half of us are too young and still to blossom, while the other half are too old and past their best. The best of us are put in positions that are not their best, and are expected to perform despite not being fully prepared. We are not tested week in, week out, so we come to these occasions largely unprepared for the physical and mental challenge involved. Quite simply, we can't compete. We are out of our depth. In the past we have punched above our weight, but those we have come to rely on are not getting any younger, and we have been unable to find people who are better than - or even as good as - those who have moved on. Then there is always luck, or in our case the lack of it. Everything seems to go wrong, and we never seem to get the rub of the green on these occasions. That can't be our excuse, though, because in all aspects of life you make your own luck. At the end of the day, we simply are not good enough to compete at this level. That is not to say that we will never be able to stand shoulder to shoulder with the giants, but it will be difficult, and it will need a dramatic reappraisal of how things are structured domestically and internationally, and a re-evaluation of how the allocation of resources can be improved to enable us to bring through the young talent that we will need in the not too distant future. The age old adage that you have to speculate to accumulate rings true; and while it may be a cliche, nothing succeeds quite like success is no less true for that. If we want to be a leading player in Europe, then those who are in charge have to start demonstrating their desire and start putting their money where their mouths are. Just now, domestically, we are a big fish in a very small pond. The only problem with being the big fish, though, is that it becomes easy prey for the rich fishermen. We really must do better, because our recent performances have just not been good enough.

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