We’re only following orders - Whelan
GLENN WHELAN has criticised his own performance in Ireland's defeat by Russia last Friday, while hinting that the team are constrained by instructions from the manager.
The Stoke midfielder felt he produced a sub-par display in the 3-2 defeat at the Aviva Stadium. And, as he prepares for tonight's meeting with Slovakia in Zilina, the Dubliner is intent on atoning for his errors in that game.
Whelan appeared to suggest that instructions from the sideline were responsible for Ireland's negative approach.
"Everyone would like to see better football and try and get more passing around the pitch, but if it's not to be and the manager wants something different, then what can you do?" he says.
However, speaking subsequently, the 26-year-old suggested that the players could have addressed the situation on the night but failed to step up to the plate.
"I don't need a paper or radio station to tell me if I've played well or badly," says Whelan. "I know I did badly on Friday, but I can come through it. I know I can do a lot better and hopefully after the Slovakia game, I can forget about the game on Friday."
Nevertheless, Whelan believes he should take the lessons from that match into tonight's showdown. He acknowledges that the midfield was ineffective, and that neither himself nor Paul Green imposed themselves as Russia outnumbered and outpassed the hosts. Indeed, he feels there was a collective fretting as opposed to a measured response to the situation.
"That's what I took from it," he says, reflecting on the manner of the defeat. "A sloppy goal from ourselves for the first and the second was good play from them, but then you're 2-0 down and chasing the game early on and you want to try and get a goal as quick as possible.
"It's difficult when you've got five in the middle to try and get on the ball and move it about, but it's something that we wanted to do and we just couldn't do and then I think we got a little bit 'panic stations'.
"We did lump it a lot more to Kevin (Doyle) and Robbie (Keane), which obviously didn't work. But that's down to me and Paul, or whoever it is in the middle, to try and get on the ball then.
So, while a tactical change might alleviate the pressure on the midfield department, Whelan feels that the lethargy in the Irish ranks on Friday was a significant factor in the outcome.
"We went out with a game plan. You worry about the team you're playing against but you also have to worry about how you go out and put yourself about on the pitch.
"We want to stay top of the table and in with a shout of qualifying and if we want to do that, then we have to beat Slovakia," he declares.
"I've said that Friday was a kick up the backside for us. We know that it's going to be tough to qualify and that if we want to do it, then we have to turn it around against Slovakia and that's what we'll be looking to do."