O'Neill warns of hard work ahead
Published 19/11/2013 | 07:21
New Ireland boss Martin O'Neill has admitted the hard work has only just begun as he attempts to mould his team into a force.
The 61-year-old's reign could hardly have started in any more positive style when Ireland cruised to a 3-0 friendly victory over Latvia in Dublin on Friday evening.
But while delighted with both the result and the performance, O'Neill was swift to point out that there would be tougher tests to come, and as he prepared for a testing away fixture in Poland on Tuesday night, he insisted he has only just scratched the surface.
He said: "Listen, genuinely there's loads of things. We have things to do.
"We won a game on Friday night and I thought we played very well. But no, we have loads of things to work on and I think tomorrow night will show that.
"Please, it's not me putting a dampener on things. It was great to win the game, but this was one match and, at friendly level, it's a game we would have been expected to win.
"We did it in a fine manner and that's gone. Now we pass on to Poland tomorrow night, a totally different thing."
While O'Neill was being welcomed to his new job with a victory, opposite number Adam Nawalka saw his team slip to a disappointing 2-0 defeat by Slovakia in Wroclaw in his first game.
However, the Ireland boss has seen enough of the Poles in recent times, and in particular their final World Cup qualifier against England at Wembley, to know they will be a different proposition to the Latvians.
He said: "They are a very fine side. It's only just a few weeks ago since they went to Wembley still in with a chance, and in fairness they missed a couple of great chances in that game at Wembley that might have changed the outlook of the game.
"Poland have always had some very, very fine players. It will be very difficult for us tomorrow night, it will be difficult, but it's a game we are looking forward to."
Skipper Robbie Keane will not start the game as he prepares to see a specialist over an Achilles problem which could require surgery.
But he will be at the INEA Stadium in Poznan, where Ireland lost to both Croatia and Italy during the finals of Euro 2012, and while that will spark painful memories, the appointment of O'Neill and assistant Roy Keane have helped to instill a sense of optimism.
Robbie Keane said: "The memories for all the players involved in the Euros weren't good. But we can't dwell too much on what happened in the past.
"It's a new start for everybody, a new management team that's come into place. Everybody now looking forward.
"I think you've seen the response since the appointment. The whole nation has been very happy and that's what we want as players. But ultimately it's up to us on the field to get wins and keep that buzz around Ireland."