We played some decent football at the Euro’s for spells against Sweden, v Italy and for 50 odd minutes against France where we were full of energy, hard working and most importantly we looked to have a bit of courage on the ball and looked to use it. The likes of Brady and Hendrick were central to this while Murphy played very well as a lone striker and bringing others into the game.
This campaign should have been set up to try and maximize the contribution of the likes of Brady and Hendrick instead it marginalised their impact due to O’Neill not having a coherent plan as to how to use them and this is entirely down to O’Neill, both are consistent performers at club level with Brady playing wide and Hendrick the most advanced of a midfield three for Burnley yet for Ireland they are asked to play a different role or position from one game to the next and in some games like Georgia away and Denmark last week numerous different role over 90 minutes and this is only compounded by O’Neill’s stubbornness in only naming the team to the players 90 minutes or so before kick off, the chopping and changing has massively effected their performances.
Another stick he should be beaten with was the inclusion of Glenn Whelan over the likes of Meyler and to a lesser extent Arter and Long over Murphy for long spells of the campaign. Early goals away to Serbia and Georgia somewhat painted over the cracks of performances whereby we were completely played off the field and bless to pick up two points from these games. The first half of the Georgia game was as abject an Irish performance i can remember where we ended up with 20% possession after 45 minutes.
The win away in Austria set us up in an excellent position to control our own destiny and win the group but we ended up giving three mediocre performances at home to Wales, Austria and Serbia and performances certainly dropped off after a promising start. I doubt O’Neill can turn this around and a lot of the deficiencies laid bare by Denmark will have damaged morale and you get the feeling that now is the time to change things and bring in a fresh voice, but I get the feeling that O’Neill is too stubborn to walk away and with a lack of credible available alternatives the FAI will look to keep him on as well.