For those of you that have made it this far – I salute you! If you haven’t already read my last post you will have missed the end of my #MayTheFürthBeWithYou save where 9 epic seasons came to an end and we received news of the retirement (finally) of Mick McCarthy from the Ireland job, paving the way for us to meet our final save objective and take the reigns of the Ireland National Team. This blog will be short and sweet as we travel forward in time to the World Cup 2030 qualifiers where we will attempt to get Ireland on the plane to the competition finals in Spain. Bearing in mind that this is 10 years on from where we sit now in reality, I have actually no idea what kind of team we will have apart from the Irish players that have passed through our doors at Greuther Fürth during the past decade – without further adieu, let’s find out who we have to choose from and who will be our opponents as we mount a monumental qualifying campaign to lead the Boys in Green to glory.
Most of our better players are still IRL players and players we had at Fürth, with the likes of Gavin Bazunu, Adam Idah, Troy Parrott, Joe Hodge, Luca Connell and Jason Knight all in their prime in 2030. We don’t see much in the form of newgens with midfielder MarkMartin the standout newgen plying his trade at Wolves following a €34m move from Arsenal.
We are drawn in Group 5 of the qualifiers alongside Germany (more #narrative), Wales, Cyprus and Belarus knowing that most likely we will need to finish as one of the best second placed teams in order to qualify – Germany have a ridiculous team dominated by newgens, so topping the group is somewhat over-ambitious having been battered by many of these players in the Bundesliga in recent times.
As we prepare for our opening game against the Cypriots, it’s clear there is a significant lack of Central Defenders in the Irish national pool and with Shane Duffy now at the ripe old age of 35, it looks as if our best option will be to play Joe Hodge at Centre Half alongside Nathan Collins having spent the last few seasons playing the Half Back role for us previously. Seeing as there are so many past and present Fürth players in the squad, it would be rude not to take our beautifully horrendous looking 4-1-4-1 Asymmetric formation with us into the Ireland camp.
A highly successful qualifying campaign sees us qualify as one of the top second placed sides, and we enter the draw with 48 teams as bottom seeds in the new World Cup format where will be placed in a group of three teams, two of which will proceed to the knockout stages. At this point I’m so confused by the format and sheer volume of teams I have no idea who we might get – let’s just skip to the main event!
I reckon a crime has been committed as we have just gotten away with absolute murder – despite being bottom seeds we get a very favourable draw against South Korea who boast our last ever Fürth signing Lee Kang-In, and a Senegal side who no longer consider Sadio Mane worthy of a call up now that he is a 35 year old free agent in the game. Call it luck of the Irish, but I reckon we might just have a chance at progressing in this World Cup – watch out Spain, the Boys in Green are coming.
At the last minute we convince Englishman Aiden Charles (Newcastle) and half Irish/half Norewegian Kristian Tonstad to pledge allegiance to Ireland, and both are included in in the final 23-man squad as we prepare for our opening game against South Korea. The bad news is Nathan Collins picks up an injury meaning he can be included in the squad but wont be available for 3-4 weeks – I guess we will need to get to the final if Nathan expects an appearance!
So, about this Tonstad guy…….
With Luca Connell not fit, we started Tonstad in the Inverted Winger role and the lad bags a hat-trick on his Ireland debut – imagine if an Ireland player won the Golden Boot! If that wasn’t enough – we somehow topped that with a 6-0 demolition of Senegal who to be fair are not the side they once were, 32 year old Ismaila Sarr their main standout player. It’s too soon to start thinking Ireland are going to win the World Cup right?
A defensive masterclass allows super-sub Brian Carroll (Man City U23s) to nab a winner on 84 minutes and it’s absolute scenes in Sevilla’s Benito Villamarin stadium (where else). Manager MaddFM is spotted celebrating among the thousands of Irish fans on the streets of Seville as Ireland gear up for their last 16 clash against a Czech Republic boasting one of the best players on the planet in Adam Hlozek.
Despite going a goal down on 16 minutes, Ireland fought hard until scoring a well deserved equaliser on 67 mins with that man Krystian Tonstad netting his 4th goal of the tournament, and 1-1 was how it finished to send the game into extra-time. Neither team were able to break the deadlock, even after Ireland’s Joe Hodge was sent off with 2 minutes remaining – it wouldn’t be a World Cup without a Penalty Shootout now would it 🤷♂️.
HEARTBREAK IN SAN SEBASTIAN! Ireland came so close to reaching a World Cup Quarter Final for only their second time in history, however penalty misses by Adam Idah and Conor Coventry condemned the Boys in Green to an early exit from World Cup 2030. Ireland can hold their heads high after powerful victories in the Group Stages, and based on the performances of this youthful side the future is certainly bright for the Boys in Green.
And that was that!! We went further than I had originally predicted, however in hindsight I feel we should have gotten even further looking at the path and quality of opposition faced – it just wasn’t to be. The Czechs went on to beat Italy in the Quarter Final before losing to eventual winners Portugal who defeated England in the final courtesy of a Ruben Vinagre winner. Welcome to the future 🧐.
Just like that, as quickly as he arrived on the scene at Greuther Fürth a decade ago, MaddFM picks up his hat and coat and his silhouette is seen strolling into the sunset…he was never seen again 😄.
Thanks for reading – rest well FM20, it’s been a hell of a ride.