Despite what chalkboard tacticians want, there’s no quick fix for Ireland’s issues

Martin O’Neill isn’t the problem for Ireland, it’s been around much longer than that…


These pieces are a dime a dozen. The timing of their appearance alters between post-thrashing and those painfully long barren spells in between international games.

The former makes them appear reactionary and disingenuous. The latter can be written off as filling inches and article quotas. The issue, of course, is that there’s still reason to publish them.

Plenty will examine what happened on the pitch last night. There’s room for that, but what’s far more important is that significance of what it reflected – an ugly truth. Players asked to come in and save Ireland were seasoned pros and not up-and-coming, unheralded talents that wouldn’t feel the pressure of the situation.

O’Neill can’t be at fault for Stephen Ward being dispossessed in embarrassing fashion. In fact, his willingness to look for a short pass is contradictory to Martin O’Neill’s footballing preferences.

He also shouldn’t need to tell players to make sure you match up two-v-two on short corners. Harry Arter relayed that on several occasions, despite lengthy hesitation from Jeff Hendrick.

What he’s completely culpable for, is the double switch. Meyler and Arter being replaced for perceived attacking threat in McGeady and Weso is nothing more than the logic of a five-year-old playing a video game.

It opened up thirty yards of space for Christian Eriksen to play in. He took full advantage. For a man who plays the percentages, he must be aware that there’s a high likelihood Denmark would score twice if not three times, should the Spurs midfielder be afforded that space.

He clearly didn’t, but they did.

It was an indirect admission that he doesn’t know how to coach a side to break teams down.

But – that’s the easy part. The part everyone’s reading about today and writing off another failed qualification campaign.

If it only it could end there. Irish football has far bigger issues than a diamond in midfield and a lack of awareness when it comes to short corners.

A lack of prospects to follow on from the aging saviours of this Republic is what people should be concerned about.

Relying on soulless English conveyor belt systems that cast our young players off into the murky realms of academy football do them no good.

Maybe if there was a domestic league? There’s the rub – there is.

As the Aviva Stadium emptied with twenty-five minutes to go, the masses won’t be seen in a football ground for the foreseeable future, unless they book a weekend break to Manchester or Merseyside.

Ill-governance from the FAI, a lack of funding from the Irish government, who instead prefer to spend a fortune on disjointed, unrealistic Rugby World Cup bids, and disinterest from the general public means this footballing nation is on its knees.

Underage results have picked up, but when an organisation demands results, with so much disparity in footballing approach between the age groups and senior level, there’s no continuity.

A young midfielder that’s excellent on the ball at U19 level probably won’t see himself as integral in senior setup due to the style adopted. Ireland, instead of having a footballing identity, adopt managers with their own take on things and allow them to dictate.

That’s not how a nation should be recognised on the grandest of stages. It might be worth sacrificing a few qualification campaigns to experiment with philosophy, even if that means season tickets sales take a blow.

There’s no quick fix for this – despite what the chalkboard tacticians want to try and magnify on your newsfeeds.

So, what of O’Neill, you ask? Depends.

If occasional results and the ability to be in there until the end so you can market big nights in Ballsbridge are what you’re after, then there’s no reason the FAI will withdraw that contract offer.

Maybe the nation doesn’t deserve the answers. Maybe the way it consumes football is, at least in part, responsible for results at the top level – even if they won’t admit it.

Last night was an inconvenience to the various banter brigades located across the island. They can no longer fulfil their summer plans of standing outside lingerie shops, cheering at women for buying underpants.

How will Russia ever cope?

Last night was also a distraction from the bigger issues the FAI likely won’t address because the focus is on a manager’s position. That’s more of a tragedy than Hamlet ever was.

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What do you think?