Sean St Ledger: Now officially not rubbish
Before this week’s two internationals, all most Republic of Ireland fans knew about St Ledger was that he played in the Championship, and had not yet distinguished himself, in either sense, for his country. SSL having not yet scored an own goal/fallen on his arse in the face of an approaching striker/conceded a penalty/or scuffed a clearance was reason enough for optimism in my book. Trappatoni was looking to the Middlesbrough player to be the second half of a reliable centre-back pairing, something the Irish have arguably not had since 1994.
After he contributed in no small way to Boro’s shambolic capitulation at home to WBA a few weeks back, it was with some trepidation that I watched him line-up for his (grandfather’s) country on Saturday. Would he be the latest in a long line of Gary Breens? It didn’t seem that way to me watching him play against Italy. If you don’t believe me, ask Iaquinta, who must have had a pretty good view of SSL that day peeking out of his pocket.
The goal he scored 3 minutes from time was just the icing on the cake, after showing composure, discipline, and work rate throughout. His ability to keep the line when being countered, and to pass the ball sensibly under pressure were essential to the team. Although it was John O’Shea who took the bottle of champagne home after the game, he owes a glass or two of it to the man who played on his left.
In the altogether less exciting game against Montenegro, he carried himself confidently enough, and did pretty well at passing the ball along the back line, which was the sort of boring nonsense that went on throughout that game. He also advanced as far as the halfway line once, and passed the ball to a forward, a bit like Beckenbauer.
So for me at least, the jury is in. No more Paul McShane at centre-half, Sean St Ledger is the man for us. Now that the manager has living proof that Championship regulars can ably replace Premiership players, how about getting Darren O’Dea in for Kilbane?