Tuesday 24 April 2018

Liam Brady - Martin O'Neill needs to be held accountable for not playing Wes Hoolahan more

5 October 2017; Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill during a press conference at the FAI National Training Centre in Abbotstown, Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
5 October 2017; Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill during a press conference at the FAI National Training Centre in Abbotstown, Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Jack O'Toole

Former Juventus and Ireland midfielder Liam Brady has said that there must be serious questions raised over Martin O'Neill's reluctance to use Wes Hoolahan following Ireland's 2-0 win over Moldova on Friday.

Hoolahan played 79 minutes in a comfortable Irish win in Dublin as Ireland now head to Cardiff on Monday to face a Wales side with everything to play for.

The Norwich City midfielder has played just five out of nine games this campaign and Brady said that Ireland could have been heading to Cardiff with four more points had Hoolahan of played more.

"I think Martin O'Neill's selections have to be questioned," said Brady on RTE's post-match show. "Once again, albeit against Moldova, and you see how the fans reacted to him, he's the one that makes the team play.

"Now O'Neill hasn't realised that for a lot of the games that we've played in this group. The games we've played against Georgia when we drew 1-1, he wasn't playing Wes. Austria at home, he only came on as a sub after 73 minutes and he made a difference.

"Wales at home when it was 0-0 against 10-men, he didn't play. There's questions to be asked about Hoolahan and there's questions to be asked about Meyler.

"There are questions about his team selection that are serious questions. We could have four points more. We could be going to Wales needing a draw to top the group to go automatically.

"We're all clever in hindsight but there has to be serious questions about his team selections."

Former Chelsea winger Damien Duff said that Ireland are a different team when Hoolahan plays and that the 35-year-old's performances usually correlate with the rest of the side.

"There has to be a contrast in the way we play," said Duff. "When Wes is in the team we're a totally different team, when he's not, it's route one... is that what you'd call it? Is that the nicest way to call it?

"There's such a contrast in the way we play and if you go through the games, the good performances, it's more than likely that Wes is usually in them. And when we struggle he's not."

Fellow pundit Richie Sadlier concurred with Brady and Duff and added that formation is irrelevant when it comes to the question of Hoolahan's selection.

"He changes everything," said Sadlier.

"Whether it's two up front, whether it's five across the middle, it doesn't matter what the formation is, if Wes is playing he completely changes what is possible."

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