Sport Soccer

Friday 23 February 2018

Irish fans have not seen best of me, admits McGeady as he reveals 'mental block' in front of goal

Republic of Ireland's Aiden McGeady
Republic of Ireland's Aiden McGeady
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

HE will make his 60th appearance for Ireland against the Faroe Islands on Friday, but Aiden McGeady believes that supporters have yet to see him at his best in a green jersey.

The Spartak Moscow winger offered the observation in his trademark matter-of-fact style.

McGeady doesn't do too many interviews and tends to adopt the posture of a man with a bus to catch, yet he generally has something interesting to say and is never shy about letting an inquisitor know if he disagrees with their question.

You sense he is aware that he is the favoured whipping boy of some Aviva Stadium hecklers.

McGeady thinks that some of the accusations are unfair, while admitting that his inability to string a consistent run of form together and a "mental block" about scoring for Ireland really bothers him.

"For some reason or another, I probably haven't hit my best form for Ireland," he said. "I don't know why, but my performances for Ireland don't reflect the way I play at club level.

"Obviously, I've had some good games. The Euro qualifiers was a good campaign for me, but it still probably wasn't the way I feel I can play."

The familiar complaint is that McGeady fails to deliver an end product. On one hand, he agrees that his record of just two international goals is a major disappointment, but he also thinks that the number of assists he has delivered has been overlooked.

"I can improve on my shooting and scoring," he said. "At club level, I'm okay, but for Ireland I just seem to have a mental block or something, anytime I get near the goal.

"The crossing and stuff is okay. People talk about end product at times but I know more than anyone that I've got to create more chances. If I hit one over the bar or behind the goal, it's end product that gets mentioned instead of what I have done well."

As a winger within Giovanni Trapattoni's favoured system, McGeady also has defensive responsibilities and when Marco Tardelli was informed of the player's introspection, he praised the Glaswegian's tactical improvement, acknowledging that three years in Russia may have helped to broaden his mind in that department.

However, Tardelli believes that it's time for the 27-year-old to play in England and, reading between the lines, it is apparent that McGeady agrees.

With a year left on his contract and only tentative discussions taking place about an extension, a Premier League switch is the natural move.

McGeady has enjoyed the Russian experience but feels that he needs to move on to the next stage of his career for a variety of reasons. A campaign marred by injury scuppered a potential switch to Wigan in January.

"It was close, but ultimately I wasn't fit," he said with a sigh. "I don't want to say that I don't want to extend my time at Spartak but three years is a long time. Four years is a long time and I don't want to spend another four or five years there. I'd like to try somewhere else, maybe England.

"Russia is not the easiest place to live. It's okay for me, but it can be difficult for family and that's obviously a big factor as well."

With McGeady due back in Russia on June 19, he's trying to cram a lot into this stay and seized on Monday's day off to make a flying trip to Scotland to prepare for his wedding on Friday week.

"It's not easy when you're six months away from home at a time," he explained. "But it's coming together."

In the circumstances, he wants to miss the trip to New York for next Tuesday's friendly against Spain, and Trapattoni seems likely to excuse him.

The challenge for McGeady is to make the second half of his career for Ireland considerably better than the first. He thinks that helping the team to qualify for Brazil is a plausible starting point.

"I don't see any reason why we can't," he said. "We almost qualified in 2010, we qualified for Euro 2012. Yeah, it's going to be tough, and Germany are going to qualify, but I don't see Sweden or Austria being far better than us."

Certainly, an on-song McGeady would make the task far easier.

Irish Independent

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