“It is important to dispel the train of thought that it's in the DNA of Irish players to play a more direct style"
It was refreshing to learn over the weekend that some members of the Republic of Ireland squad are as disillusioned with the current regime as the Irish sporting public.
Seamus Coleman’s remarks in the wake of Everton’s Premier League victory didn’t offer any insight into the discontent that was making headlines in the Sunday papers.
The Donegal man’s decision to go for bat for his manager is admirable, a player of Coleman’s stature urging fans to lay off the boss came at a good time for Martin O’Neill.
Coleman has put his body on the line for Ireland, he’s broken bones for Ireland and what’s more telling about his character is that he would likely do it all again for the benefit of his nation.
Coleman can still have a positive impact on Ireland’s fortunes. It’s becoming increasingly obvious that Martin O’Neill cannot. The time has come to make a change. It will cost a reported €3 million euro to dispense with the services of the veteran manager, but costly action is preferable to the fortunes of our nation’s favourite team becoming irrelevant to the public.
O’Neill’s persistence in talking down the team has left fans and pundits bewildered and pissed off, Gary Breen spoke to Off The Ball about the manager’s insistence in bringing up his player’s limitations, often unprompted. He cannot understand what benefits that can bring.
Contrast O’Neill’s summations of the human resources at his disposal with an outsider for the top job in Irish football, Stephen Kenny penned an evocative letter in his programme notes ahead of Dundalk’s SSE Airtricity League clash with Sligo Rovers.
“This team shouldn’t be defined by their trophy count. The player’s positive attitude towards playing football, their teammates and the club itself has been exceptional this season once again.
“It is important to dispel the current train of thought that it's in the DNA of Irish players to play a more direct style, that somehow being Irish that you were inherently born with a skill deficit.
“The players have consistently shown their talent, their ability to pass and receive the ball under pressure and they continue to take risks in possession and open their imaginations to see possibilities.”
I would much prefer a manager with this outlook on the modern game than one who hides behind achievements that came four decades ago. 'Clough did this, I did that' is all well and good for the after dinner speaking circuit, but has little relevance to the task at hand, which is getting results now. The Irish public and most importantly the players deserve much more than: “They have a great spirit, we lack a little bit of technical ability. We have spirit in abundance but that won't take you everywhere.”
The discontent is not confined to the Irish sporting public, you could imagine that David Meyler and Conor Hourihane didn't take kindly to seeing Cyrus Christie parachuted ahead of them in the pecking order.
Natural midfielders relegated to the role of spectator while our second choice right back is played in the middle of the park to accommodate the inclusion of our third choice right back Matt Doherty.
Colin Young spoke in detail of how the recent results were greeted in camp in a piece in ‘The Sunday Independent.’ O’Neill’s left field decision to put Christie in midfield for two games “created resentment and bewilderment” among some players who were left out.
His distrust of his own players and his insistence on waiting until the squad arrive at Lansdowne Road before naming the starting XI is beginning to bother the players as much as it does the pundits.
O’Neill is showing no faith in them, former pros better placed than I am to comment say the team is playing with no clear tactics, these factors combined makes it hard to find hope.