Sunday 25 February 2018

'This result is bound to have an effect. It's one record you don't want to break'

WE WERE completely outclassed. As we found out at the European Championships, the quality of the best teams at international level is getting better.

I may have underestimated just how good this German team is; Ireland were completely outplayed on the night by a far superior opposition.

Confidence will be low after this defeat on top of the Poland experience. I said after the comeback in Kazakhstan that it would be a good three points, the guys would be buzzing. But they will be down now, so disappointed with suffering the worst home defeat in Irish history.

It has to have an effect. That is not the kind of record you want to break.

Once you get the jersey and cross the line, the players have to stand up and be counted. They will be disappointed. We've tried to go more attacking and it hasn't worked.


I don't think the manager is to blame, he has had to deal with major injuries. But he needs to pick his strongest team. Players like Marc Wilson and Ciaran Clarke are regular Premier League players and, no disrespect to some of those who are picked in front of them, they are not playing at the same level. Questions must be asked.

People called for change, but we saw last night that it is so difficult to replace the experience lost in Damien Duff and Shay Given's retirement and Robbie Keane and Richard Dunne's injuries.

We looked more solid with the old system, but everyone has been crying out to play three in midfield and go more attacking. We started well, the lads were buzzing but as the first half wore on, Germany grew and grew.

You could argue that the system before worked better. You play four at the back, with a solid base of two midfielders protecting.

When you have 4-3-3 with wide players higher up the pitch, you can get caught up the pitch. You are trying to get forward while tending to your defensive responsibilities as well, and you can be caught in the middle and be half and half.

We made a very positive start and, for the first 15 minutes, we looked comfortable. Jon Walters was very impressive; the Stoke man won every ball that went up to him and looked a threat when he got in behind.

Germany were excellent, but we could have done better.

The first goal took the wind out of our sails and, after the mid-point of that first half, Germany were in control.

Aiden McGeady could have done better for the first goal in the position he was in. He looked away from the play and back again and in that moment, Marcel Schmelzer got in behind. Once Marco Reus is in the box, with his pace, it is very difficult to make a challenge without giving away a penalty.

After that, Germany controlled the game completely. Reus found himself in a lot of space and he finished his second well.

Darren O'Dea should have stayed on his feet for the penalty, there was no need to lunge in and he was caught in behind for Miroslav Klose's finish. They haven't had to work too hard.

I said before the game, that the longer we could keep it at 0-0, the more confidence we would get. But the Germans did not give us a foothold.

We weren't able to get James McCarthy or Simon Cox on the ball. We were lucky not to give away a penalty before the first goal too. From such a positive start, it was a disappointing way to go. At the end of the day, when you come against Germany, Spain or top European teams in club football, they will have a lot more of the ball than you.


You have to keep your shape, be disciplined, solid. A moment like McGeady switching off can be the difference.

If you do your job properly, that is not going to happen. If we're being honest, playing Germany, they are guaranteed the bulk of possession so you have to defend solidly, defend runners and make it difficult for the opposition. One second switching off, that can be the difference at this level.

In a way, going to Torshavn to face the Faroes is one of the worst fixtures you can have. Everyone expects a result, goals and a performance.

I was there when we were fogged in for a number of days after our last visit, it can be a bleak place and the worst possible game.

The pressure is on to get a result. We should win it, I think we will win it, but it is harder now.

Irish Independent

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