Saturday 21 September 2019

Matt Doherty paints stark picture of confusion over tactics among Ireland players

Ireland's Matt Doherty. Photo: Sportsfile
Ireland's Matt Doherty. Photo: Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Matt Doherty has opened up on the confusion that Martin O'Neill's approach to preparation and team selection caused in the Ireland dressing room.

The Wolves defender was involved in the last year of O'Neill's tenure and described the Irish attitude as "old school" compared to what he experiences at club level.

"When you played with Ireland, you didn't really have that much coaching," said Doherty, who painted a stark picture of the mood around the group in an interview with 2FM.

"It was more go and play a little five-a-side game or an 11-a-side game and then that would be it. So you could lead all the way up to the game, maybe the day before a game and you would do a few set-pieces here and there and then you would go into a game and you were thinking to yourself, 'What shape we are going to play?'

"You'd have a few players thinking, 'Aw, I think we are going to play this shape' or you might have someone else thinking, 'I think it might be this one.' You can't really have that, especially at international football, people not really sure on what their role is the next day."

Watching Doherty acknowledged that O'Neill did bring some great nights to Irish football, recalling watching them at home as a fan before breaking into the squad. "Some of the times he brought made the hairs on your neck stand up. He was manager for that so he deserves credit as well."

However, the Belvedere product also offered the view that there are quality players in the dressing room that are capable of lifting the performance levels if a manager can hit on the right formula.

"I know the results haven't been going well and the performances haven't been good and the fans might not like the players, but there is quality players in the squad," he stressed. "If you can get the best out of them, you can have a very different team."

Doherty's exclusion under O'Neill did become a talking point and he quipped that his preference for a new manager would be someone who would play him. But he added the next man in would need to "give a new lease of life" to the set-up.

On the domestic front, Shamrock Rovers have seen off strong competition from double winners Dundalk to capture the sought-after Derry City midfielder Aaron McEneff. Dundalk had spoken to the 23-year-old but Rovers made the strongest play to secure his services.

"Aaron does a bit of everything," said Rovers boss Stephen Bradley. "He can start the game and he can play higher up, he's a bit of an all-rounder."

Irish Independent

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