Tuesday 20 February 2018

Martin O'Neill: We need a touch of realism from the media ahead of Euro 2016

Martin O’Neill
Martin O’Neill
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

MartinO'Neill thinks that Ireland's Euro 2012 survivors will have to take a grounded approach to next summer's European Championships even if their stunning win over Germany in the autumn has proved that anything is possible.

The Ireland manager says that he has not spoken to the members of the squad about the experience yet, but he feels that they may have suffered from unrealistic expectations heading into a group with Croatia, Spain and Italy. Giovanni Trapattoni's side lost all three games and exited Poland with a whimper.

He feels that a group which includes Sweden, Belgium and Italy presents a stern test and will encourage his side to focus on diligent research as opposed to listening to predictions from outside the camp. But the 63-year-old added that the right mental approach will be important with regard to achieving the mission.

"I don't know what happened the last time. I don't know the inside story and have not asked the players," he says.

"I know before the team went there that expectations became very, very high suddenly to a man, with the media and journalists giving points to games, saying 'if we can win this game (Croatia) maybe we could get a draw with Spain'.

"There has to be a touch of realism to everything. I say the draw is difficult as Italy are a top nation with so much experience. Belgium are a top side and Sweden are a tough side, but we'll treat these games accordingly.

"Can we win these games? I think we can because we beat some very good teams on the way to France. These were big matches and we came through these tests. The closer we get to the time, we want to be prepared physically and mentally as best as we can."

O'Neill is looking forward to enjoying the Christmas period with family and is starting to come to terms with the breaks that accompany international football. "I still find the length of time between games difficult," he admits, "But I'm actually looking forward to the next couple of months.

"The build-up to the friendly matches in March time (Switzerland and Slovakia) will be great. I don't want it to pass too quickly because at my time of life I don't want the months to just fly in. But it's great to look forward to and all the backroom staff feel exactly the same."

Irish Independent

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