Sport

Moran and McGrath's best and worst of 2015

Shane Long has ensured his legendary status after THAT goal
Shane Long has ensured his legendary status after THAT goal

They were rock solid in defence for Ireland, and now our famous pairing of Kevin Moran and Paul McGrath give you their views on the good, the bad and the plain ugly from the football year just ending.

Kevin Moran’s

FIVE GOOD THINGS FROM 2015...

1

The two Irish teams qualifying for Euro 2016. I didn’t even have to think about this, as for the first time ever our two teams in Green will be playing in the same Finals.

That, above all, was the finest thing to happen on any football pitch this year.

2

I know this isn’t about soccer, but I don’t care!

The Sky Blue jersey has been a massive part of my life – so Dublin winning the 2015 All-Ireland Gaelic football title is the second best thing for me from this year.

3

Leicester City have been the team of the year in 2015.

They were brilliant in avoiding relegation at the end of last season and their run to top the table on Christmas Day was phenomenal.

Jamie Vardy has been magnificent and now, with him and Riyad Mahrez, Leicester have two players on their books worth a combined £50million – and even that might not be enough for a suitor to win their services.

4

Not far behind Leicester City in the fairy tale stakes in this campaign is Watford, who are another small club operating off a limited budget.

They have prospered in the Premier League and are even challenging to qualify for European competition for next season.

They are another breath of fresh air in what was becoming a stale Premier League – at least in terms of the top of the table. Not any more.

5

Barcelona winning the Champions League again.

They have been a brilliant football team over the last decade and showed it again on the way to another European triumph.

 

FIVE BAD THINGS FROM 2015...

1

The demise of Chelsea and Jose Mourinho. Who could have seen it coming as the champions of last season collapsed and Jose Mourinho was fired for only the second time in his professional career?

It’s truly astonishing and now Chelsea are surely going to face what Manchester United faced in the summer of 2014 – a season out of the Champions League which will make it very hard to attract the top players to the club

2

Leeds United have actually picked up in the last few weeks, but what is going on there?

The city is the biggest one in England with only one club and they ought to be a powerhouse of the domestic game.

Yet they are languishing in the Championship as managers come and go and the club is still paying the penalty for massive overspending in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

3

Even though it has nothing to do with what happens on the pitch, the implosion of FIFA was shocking. For the world governing body of the game to be in the mess it finds itself at the end of the year is nothing short of astonishing.

Our great game is not being well served by its bosses.

4

There’s no point trying to sugar-coat it, Manchester United are not going well and, worst of all, they are not entertaining their supporters.Their style of football is depressing to watch and the fans are getting fed up.

The second half of 2015 has been a half-season to forget for everyone at Old Trafford.

5

The death of Jimmy Hill was a sad day for football. Here was a man who was a player, manager, referee, club administrator, club chairman, trade union leader, broadcaster and all-round football man.

Jimmy’s extraordinary vision for football was such that he was proposing changing to three points for a win long before it became fashionable elsewhere.

Of course his greatest legacy to football was his time as leader as the PFA, when he shattered the ‘Maximum Wage’ rule that led to the riches professionals enjoy today.

 

Paul McGrath’s

FIVE GOOD THINGS FROM 2015...

1

I take it all back Martin! The Ireland manager had a go at me after I said that Ireland’s draw against Scotland in June was the end of our Euro 2016 hopes.

The Irish manager insisted there would be twists and turns before the campaign ended – and how right he was.No doubt about it, Ireland qualifying for Euro 2016 was the best thing that happened in football for me this year.

2

The biggest twist on that journey was that Ireland beat the world champions Germany. It was a great night for Irish football and if Shane Long never scores another goal in the green shirt, he will be a legend forever for that strike past Manuel Neuer.

3

Leicester City have been brilliant this season. They are a breath of fresh air in what was becoming an all-too predictable Premier League.

Their super striker Jamie Vardy has proved that not every top team has to splash out on a £40million centre-forward.

4

Arsenal could win the title this season while staying faithful to their attacking principles. I’d love to see that happen, for Arsene Wenger especially.

5

Yet again we were able to enjoy the Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo show.

How lucky we are to have these two magnificent footballers inspiring each other to ever greater heights of goals and assists.

 

FIVE BAD THINGS FROM 2015...

1

Player Power. I’m sorry, but Chelsea’s players downed tools in front of one of the greatest managers the game has known in Jose Mourinho.

You might not like the manager, but as long as the supporters of a club are paying your wages you play for them.

After that, you can ask for a transfer at the end of your contract, or the end of the season. But you never stop trying.

2

Louis van Gaal can have a go at me as another past Manchester United player, but I don’t care. They are playing boring football and that is not the Manchester United way.

However, it says a lot about the Premier League that, as bad as they are playing, the Red Devils are still in touch at the top of the table.

3

If only two little plastic balls had fallen differently in Paris on December 12. Then the Republic of Ireland would have Austria and Hungary in their Euro 2016 group instead of Sweden and Italy. It would have been a bit easier for the Boys in Green.

4

Aston Villa, my beloved old club, are in free fall. They were hammered in the FA Cup final last May, but since beating Bournemouth on the opening day in August, the Villa have been struggling.

I can’t see Remi Garde halting the slide until they hit the floor that is relegation.

5

I hate the way statistics are taking over football. There’s only one stat that matters in a football match – the scoreline.

I’ve heard stories about good pros being unwilling to sling a cross into the penalty area because if a defender intercepts it that will go down as a lost possession against them.

Then some coach will be in their ear at the next training session about ‘lost possessions’. I mean, if you don’t put a cross in the box, how are you going to score a goal?