Wilson questions value of route-one approach
If anyone typified the dying embers of the Giovanni Trapattoni regime on Friday night, it was Marc Wilson, a talented ball player who visibly wilted in the final 10 minutes. Yesterday in Malahide, he was similarly fitful.
Nothing betrayed his mistrust of the manager's tactics more than his inability to defend them.
"Of course I'm allowed to go forward but I don't think we get in enough good positions to get forward," he responded, after an inordinate pause, when probed on the team's tactics.
"I think we need to play it through the middle a bit more, to pass the ball, to create chances for us to get forward more."
When it was suggested that aerial bombardment hardly suggested the best possible route towards such a nirvana, Wilson was deflated in reply.
"No it doesn't. I think the more games the lads get, we're training with new faces, there are new faces coming in every day and we haven't had a lot of time together as a group but there are no excuses, Friday wasn't good enough.
"Maybe playing it long is something we can do in the opening few minutes just to make sure we can get a foothold in the game and take some of the pressure off ourselves, but not after that."
Captain Robbie Keane was, albeit subtly, even more damning about the team's tactics. He had suggested a different approach before the game but – strangely – that never materialised.
"That's the way we play," said the captain, though he also maintained his robust defence of his manager's reign.
"Unfortunately since I've been here with the Irish team, we only know one way and that's the way we play. We don't have the players to get it down and keep the ball for fun like Spain."
Wilson agreed with his captain that a win is a must in Vienna tomorrow night, although Sweden can render the pipedream as good as over should they win in Astana against Kazakhstan in the hours before Ireland kick-off.
"As a squad we know what we have to do," he said. "We know ourselves we've got to get three points, and hopefully Kazakhstan can get a result against Sweden which can put us back in the group.
"It's a big game. If we don't go in the right frame of mind, there is no point in going, so we just think of this game and getting the three points. We've got to get three points. No matter how we get them, we've got to get three points."