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Martin and Roy need a new plan in a hurry


Ireland manager Martin O’Neill during Monday’s match against Denmark

Ireland manager Martin O’Neill during Monday’s match against Denmark

Ireland’s Kevin Long (left) and Callum Robinson after the final whistle in Aarhus

Ireland’s Kevin Long (left) and Callum Robinson after the final whistle in Aarhus

Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane

Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane


Ireland manager Martin O’Neill during Monday’s match against Denmark

I remember Jack Charlton telling me that every manager has a lifespan and will eventually reach a point where their time is up in a job - and you wonder if Martin O'Neill is getting close to that point with Ireland.

Alex Ferguson is the one exception to that rule after his record-breaking reign at Manchester United and while Arsene Wenger did his best to follow in his footsteps, even he ran out of steam last summer as he was ushered towards the door at Arsenal against his wishes.

Football management is a cruel business and when the tide turns against you, it doesn't matter how successful you have been over the course of your career as the wolves start to circle when they smell blood.

I'm not going to say here and now that Martin should be sacked as Ireland manager because I have too much respect for what he has achieved in the game to make that kind of statement, but it's clear that a lot of people are now calling for change at the top of the Ireland set-up.

It was sad to sit through the 90 minutes in Denmark on Monday night and you could say the same about most of our matches in 2018.

It's fair to say Ireland don't have the players to compete at the very highest levels of international football at this moment, but that does not mean we cannot have a plan and a method to try and get results and play with a little bit of invention.

So much seems to be lacking with this Ireland team, as their sole intention in Denmark was to get as many men behind the ball and try to defend at all costs.

If we were offering up some kind of attacking threat and keeping it tight at the back, the criticism flowing the way of Martin and his assistant Roy Keane would not be so potent, but it's hard to get away from the reality that this management team seem to have lost the popular support of the Irish public.

We wait to see who Ireland draw in the Euro 2020 qualifiers, but if the performances are as uninspiring as they have been over the course of the last year, I'd expect to see lots of empty seats at the Aviva Stadium for qualifying games next year and this is not how it should be.

Ireland fans are the best in the world and they are realistic in their ambitions.

We want to try and qualify for tournaments and have a bit of craic when we get there, but I looked at the fans who travelled to Denmark this week to watch a team that failed to produce a single shot on goal in the match and it must have drained their enthusiasm to go to all that trouble and expense to follow the team in their next away game.

We are not expecting these Ireland players to pass teams off the park or produce consistent results against the best teams in the world, but we can demand a lot more than we have seen of late and Martin and Roy do not need me to tell them that.


Something doesn't look right in the Ireland set-up and we have heard all about the spats between players and the management and disagreements over the way we are playing, which adds to the suspicion that there is discontent in the camp.

Our lack of confidence on the ball and inability to string passes together is alarming and even though a lot of people have questioned the huge salary O'Neill and Keane are earning, this issue should not be the focus of our attention.

If this management duo were producing an Ireland team playing with spirit and a little bit of invention, no one would question their salary, but it's just not happening at the moment and there needs to be a transformation in fortunes very soon.

Martin and Roy will know that big decisions will need to be made over their futures unless we see marked improvement in Ireland's performances because however big a name you might have and however successful you have been in the past, football is a results and performance business that deals with the here and now.

At this moment, Ireland are coming up horribly short on both of those issues.