The annoying nothingness of International Break Time is upon us again and while last year we could try and get excited by reading about our players lighting up the five continents, at the moment we are reduced to praying for the welfare of our wee Irish Jewel.
And once again our favorite Number 7 was on show yesterday at Cardiff getting his 25th cap by playing in the 2-2 draw with Wales. If you didn't see the game, there's no point reading the papers 'cause the little irish fella was strangely subdued and fails to get a mention anywhere, except in the Sporting Life "Andy Reid curled a clever free-kick just wide". The Times gave him a score of 5 but then again there's always the good news that he didn't get injured.
His left-foot skills and vision were still obvious for all to see but he wasn't the central fulcrum of every Irish move as in previous games and there was obviously something amiss. Slidding blocks and arm-waving protests indicated his committment to the Irish cause but he was clearly upset with something and you only had to see his face when he was withdrawn on 87 minutes to see that he was not entirely a happy bunny.
Perhaps its the disappointment of not qualifying or is there more to it than that? You only have to recall his feelings a few days ago regarding the axe of Steve Staunton to understand what was going on in his head. Dropped by Staunton for the vital game away to Slovakia in September, which the Irish unluckily drew, the whole of Ireland seemed to be crying out for his inclusion after the game and when Staunton recalled him for the game against the Czech Republic 4 days later he seemed to have won over the manager and played in all of the remaining Irish qualifying games.
Now there's only the caretaker Don Givens to please, although he did give us a few views in that respect last week, and a meaningless game against the Welsh. And he's had more to say on Friday in the telegraph amidst rumours that Paul Jewell, ex of Wigan, is to get the managers job. "It is important and it means so much to us every time we pull on the green shirt; it is massively important, but we do need to enjoy it a little bit more."
There was not a lot of smiles yesterday but the most telling moment of the whole game was the sight of the entire Irish section of the crowd giving him a cheering send-off when he was subbed, with everyone on their feet. Seems we're not the only ones to appreciate his subtle skills.
And we can only hope that after losing Staunton as national manager he's not keen on changing a club manager as well. Because it's his appreciation of Pardew's management skills that will hopefully keep him with us over the sticky January window.