"I’m sure I’m not a popular person among that dressing room but I’m not in it to be popular"
Former Ireland international Keith Andrews has defended his criticism of the Republic of Ireland.
The Dubliner drew the ire of the skipper Seamus Coleman after he hit out at Martin O'Neill for presiding over the most disastrous 12 months in the history of the national team.
The defeat to Wales left the Boys in Green in danger of relegation in their Nations League group.
O’Neill has gone 5 competitive games without a win - the worst run since 2007. He also has joined Steve Staunton with the lowest win ratio any manager in the last 30 years
Coleman had a pop back claiming Andrews was just trying to make a name for himself as a pundit by being negative to garner attention.
Following the loss to Wales at the Aviva Stadium in the Nations League Andrews said: "It has been one of the worst years in living memory of Irish football, it has been that bad.
“A lot of it is down to Martin. There has been an old guard shift with experienced players retiring and that has made a difference, but you have to play the hand you are dealt. There is no transfer window, you can't go and buy players, but we should be doing better.
“They don't know what they are doing. He mentioned about technical ability and we are lacking in some areas, but they don't have a clue what they are doing.”
Coleman took a cut off Andrews, first accusing him of saying negative things for attention then there was a dig about Andrews’ playing career and ability: "Keith has been part of teams himself that could have been questioned at times. It's very easy from a pundit's position
"I've to bite my tongue at times. Keith has got a job to do. He has really taken to punditry and might have been trying to make a name for himself by being a little bit harsh the other night.
"That's his job. When he was a player it was his job to get on the ball and make things happen and at times he didn't do that. It's difficult.
Andrews is eager to avoid getting into a war of words with the Ireland skipper but says he stands by his comments:
"Firstly I should say I got the utmost respect for Seamus Coleman, love the fact that he is our captain, love how he carries himself and I couldn’t think of anyone better to lead our nation.
"He’s slightly taking up the wrong end of the story about what I was saying, but I’m certainly not going to get into a tit-for-tat with Seamus, because I can totally understand where he’s coming from in being protective of his team as the captain and also being loyal to his manager who made him captain.”
Andrews stood by his remarks on the team but accepted that Coleman was well within his rights to respond to the criticism:
"I think it’s fair game, I have an opinion in the job I’m doing and Seamus is entitled to his opinion, I’m critiquing these players week in, week out whatever level it’s at and obviously when it comes to the international stage it’s the only team that I really care about.
"I’m obviously going to be more passionate about it, I’ve watched every game Martin has been in charge of and that’s my job now, I have no problem with Seamus having a bite back, I’m sure I’m not a popular person among that dressing room but I’m not in it to be popular, you got to do your job right.”
On Episode 12 of the Keith Andrews Show, Eoin and Keith were joined by ex-Ireland internationals Andy Keogh and Damien Delaney.
You can watch the show live on all our social channels every Thursday at 12.30pm including on Facebook, YouTube and Periscope.