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No games for Clinton - you taking the Mick?

June 17 2002

Clinton Morrison

Clinton Morrison

With the end of Ireland's World Cup hopes, come the dim, dismal and downright disappointed non-appearance of Clinton Morrison, Palace's main hope in the World Cup... writes Sam Hesketh.

When the squad was announced and it was revealed that Clinton was going to the finals in Japan and Korea, we were obviously all delighted at the prospect of seeing one of our best players, and many supporters' favourite player, gracing the biggest stage in football.

His superb display against Denmark in the warm-up to the World Cup gave us hope that he would get a game somewhere along the line and this seemed to be rubber-stamped by his great finish in the final minute of the Denmark game and subsequent praise by Mick McCarthy.

No-one expected Clint to start, especially in the matches against Cameroon and Germany, as it was clear the Duff-Keane partnership would be first choice for McCarthy, and it paid off, with Duff performing brilliantly in both games and Keane equalising against Germany.

But the Saudi game was the game that Clinton certainly should have got a chance to shine.

To be honest, I didnít think he would start against Saudi Arabia. But when he didn't show up even when the Irish were cruising and had clearly beaten the Asian team after Gary Breenís goal, I began to worry, as the next match would most likely be against Spain and that would be a daunting task.

In the end he didn't play in that match either and so with Ireland out, Morrison didn't even get one kick of World Cup football.

What angers me is the faith Mick McCarthy showed in Kevin Kilbane who was woeful to put it nicely. He plays as a winger, and yet cannot cross the ball, as he proved on many occasions in the four games he played.

For a player who has played wide all their career, one would have thought the art of crossing wouldn't have gone un-noticed by Kilbane but apparently it has! As we know at Palace, with the exception of Jamie Smith, Morrison is the best crosser of the ball we have.

He has proved very effective at times when he went out on the wing, held the ball up or took someone on, whipping a cross in for the other players in the box.

This is something the Irish certainly could have used, especially if they had brought Niall Quinn on with Clinton playing wide.

Another solution would be to push Damian Duff wide, so he played as an out-and-out winger rather than a striker, which he isn't.

That way he would have been able to do what he is so effective at doing Ė running at the full-backs and skinning them, knocking good balls into the box.

If this had been the case, Kilbane could have made way for Morrison, with Duff on the left and Clinton partnering Keane up front. Obviously it is easy for me to sit here and write this.

I am not a football manager not least an international coach, but it seems very strange to me that, in a match where Ireland were by far the better team, he brought David Connolly on against Spain, when he has a striker on the bench who had scored almost double the amount of goals the Wimbledon striker had managed.

It is a big shame for all Palace fans to have such high hopes of Clinton making his name at the World Cup, maybe netting a late winner and sending the Irish on further into the tournament.

Most of all though it is a shame for Clinton, having seen players from Millwall and Wimbledon getting a game and having to spend every single minute of the tournament parked on the bench watching as an un-used substitute.

Still, we can count our blessings at least that he didnít get injured and it could mean that he stays another season with us.

But, lets face it, how happy would we all have been, regardless of the majority of us not being Irish, if Clinton had popped up with a goal in the World Cup?!


Email Sam with any of your comments to buffysbaby@hotmail.com

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