Saturday 17 August 2019

John Giles - There was something radically wrong with Ireland's organisation

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John Giles

When the dust settles on this bad beating from Denmark, missed opportunities will be the dominant theme, I’m sure of that. Not in this game though. This was a mauling.

Ireland won’t be in Russia and based on this play-off, they don’t deserve to be.

Whether you want to go back to the very start when the chance was there in a long run-in to competitive action for Martin O’Neill to establish some fundamentals, or to Copenhagen on Saturday when Ireland made no attempt to win — it’s the same story.

Consistency of selection and picking the best players in their best positions hasn’t gone out of fashion, no matter what people would like to believe.

O’Neill’s problem was that this time, whatever magic he has been able to work with the minds of his players, wasn’t enough when Denmark cut loose despite Ireland’s goal start.

Ireland couldn’t have a had better start. The disappointment felt because of Wes Hoolahan’s absence from the team sheet was cancelled by Shane Duffy’s towering header which rattled the net so early.

It should have knocked the stuffing out of Denmark and the two chances they gave up in the minutes following the goal was evidence that they were certainly flustered.

This was more headway than Ireland had made in the full 90 minutes in Copenhagen and both Daryl Murphy and James McClean could have doubled the lead.

They didn’t and instead of building on a positive start, Ireland reverted to type, pulled everyone back and left Murphy to plough a lonely furrow up front.

If you give any team the ball, they will do better than if you keep it and my pre-match concerns resurfaced with a vengeance when I saw Ireland’s response to Denmark’s first corner.

They got two men out over to the ball before the Irish defence realised what was going on and that was a very bad sign. It was scrambled clear in a flurry of bodies.

Not long after, the same thing happened again but this time, Denmark took advantage of the gift created by acres of space to work their set-piece in.

A short corner allows attacking players in the box to get on the move and it’s always easier to defend a static situation. Unfortunately, Cyrus Christie’s own goal was the result.

For me, that’s basic organisation which should come from the manager and if it doesn’t happen, there’s something radically wrong.

If a basic responsibility like that is not part of the culture of the team when a manager takes over, it should be right at the top of his ‘must-do’ list. It should be addressed immediately.

But I remember highlighting this two years ago when Ireland lost to Scotland at Parkhead and to lose a goal from something which should be a fundamental part of every defence’s organisation is very poor indeed.

Worse was to follow when Stephen Ward blundered and opened the door for Christian Eriksen. My fear then was that the floodgates would open and they did.

O’Neill threw in Hoolahan for his captain David Meyler, which was odd, and Aiden McGeady for Daryl Murphy.

But the time to use Ireland’s playmaker was in the first-leg or further back in Georgia.

While that was happening and Ireland huffed and puffed, Denmark were clinical. Eriksen filled out his hat-trick and Nicklas Bendtner added insult to injury from the penalty spot.

They could have had a few more. O’Neill’s belated attempts to let his players off the leash opened the game up and exposed how disorganised the players were.

It was hugely disappointing and I felt sorry for the players. As always, they gave everything they have but that’s not enough against a team that can play.

Denmark won’t win the World Cup but they had enough about them to show how a team should play away from home.

Their attitude was spot-on even after they went a goal behind and that kind of courage comes first from the manager.

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