Monday 22 July 2019

Stephanie Roche: Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane need to find their style

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill (left) and assistant Roy Keane
Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill (left) and assistant Roy Keane

Stephanie Roche

International week brings back many happy memories of Lansdowne Road and travelling away to support the Boys in Green.

I try to get to most games at the Aviva Stadium and some away fixtures when my schedule allows it. One of my favourite occasions as an Irish supporter was during the European Championships three years ago in Poland where I was fortunate enough to get tickets for the opening game against Croatia. While the result, and indeed the tournament from an Irish perspective was hugely disappointing, the support the team received was quite incredible.

It is rare I miss a game and I will be glued to the television for the Gibraltar encounter and will try to get home for Monday's clash with Georgia.

It seems that the goodwill has faded somewhat for the current team, but I think Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane have brought things on from the Tapattoni era.

The biggest issue I see for Ireland is that they need to find their style.

I'm convinced the quality is there to improve results and performances, but sometimes I struggle to see the style the management team are trying to implement. Jack Charlton, our most successful manager, had a clear style, though the long-ball game has been criticised more as time has gone on, while Mick McCarthy and Trapattoni, for all the negativity at the end of his reign, also had a clear vision of how they wanted to play.

The fans want to see players give it their all and they will get behind the team. They are the best supporters in the world at rallying behind a team, but it is clear that they need something to cling onto. They want to see the players get stuck in and understand that while we are far from the best nation around, we can make life difficult for our opponents and possess more quality than are given credit for.

Perhaps we have not seen the best of some of our creative players. Wes Hoolahan is a really talented player, but we do not always play to his strengths.

Wes Hoolahan, Republic of Ireland
Wes Hoolahan, Republic of Ireland

Last time out against Scotland, I felt we controlled the game but conceded a sloppy goal. The ability is there, though confidence may also be an issue after some disappointing results. A few wins would do wonders for team morale.

I would expect Ireland to claim six points against Gibraltar and Georgia. It is vital that we keep up the pressure in the group, even if it will be an uphill challenge to qualify. If they perform like we know they can, I believe they will achieve that goal.

From my own perspective it is also a big weekend looming. With just three games left in the league, we are in second place just three points behind Chelsea. Manchester City are breathing down our necks, but we play them on Sunday in a game that will be live on BT and we won't be short of motivation.

City taught us a lesson in the cup earlier this season and while we could have no complaints on the day as the better team won, the squad knew that we let ourselves down with a sub-standard performance.

They were one of the best teams we faced all season in terms of passing and movement, but it was a bad day at the office for Sunderland and we vowed to make amends.

It will have a huge outcome on both the destination of the title but also the race for the two Champions League positions. There is a two-week break international break after the game so we are hoping that we will be returning in a strong position to make a final title push.

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