Tuesday 12 December 2017

Eamon Dunphy: Ireland must dispense of 'nonsense' football or face Euros doom

Ciaran Clark celebrates scoring with his team-mates
Ciaran Clark celebrates scoring with his team-mates

Tom Rooney

Eamon Dunphy has said that if Ireland are to have any hope of success at the European Championships, they cannot continue to be so wasteful in possession.

Dunphy has heavily criticised the tactics employed by Martin O’Neill over the last three years, often citing the Irish game plan as too direct and difficult to watch.

Following Ireland’s 1-0 win over Switzerland in Friday’s friendly at the Aviva Stadium, the outspoken pundit said he was rendered incredulous by their profligacy on the ball. Dunphy went so far as to defend striker Shane Long, who was guilty of coughing up possession more than once.

“We were terrible the other night, shocking," he said on 2FM's Game On. "It is hard to get players(friendlies) up for it but we don’t have any composure on the ball. We never have the football.

“It’s hard for a striker when they’re in an unsettled team with no shape to it, that doesn’t have the ball. What’s Shane supposed to do? He’s up front, a lone ranger, and there’s no good stuff coming.”

The one time Manchester United apprentice lauded the Irish players for their commitment and endeavour before claiming that even clubs in England’s League One were playing with more sophistication than the current Irish crop.

“I think the spirit in the camp is great, it always has been with the Irish players. We do need to play football, it is called football.

“I was looking at Millwall and Burton Albion tonight and, I’m telling you, because I watch a lot of lower division games, everyone is playing a passing game, and not this nonsense where you give the ball away all the time,” he said

Ahead of the European Championships, Ireland are set to play three more warm up fixtures; tomorrow’s tie with Slovakia and then Holland and Belarus at the end of May.

Dunphy claimed that, were there not to be a marked improvement between now and facing Sweden on June 13 in the tournament opener, making a serious impact in France would be highly unlikely. To do so, he claims, the onus is on O’Neill.

“The biggest decision is how we play. If we keep giving the ball back in the summer, in the heat of France, to quality opposition, now Sweden aren’t quality, Ibrahimović apart, but we ‘ve got to win that match and we won’t win it unless we play ball.”

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