ANALYSIS: O’Neill’s fishes out of water flop again

Alan O’Brien 

Speaking on Monday afternoon, Martin O’Neill rubbished suggestions that several players played out of position throughout Saturday’s deadlock with Denmark. “The only player we had playing in a position where he doesn’t normally play is Cyrus Christie, and he was man of the match,” he said. Perspective, of course, is all relative; Christie, in the eyes of most, looked all at sea in an unfamiliar central midfield role.

Awarded man of the match for, presumably, exacting Ireland’s only shot on target, the Fulham full-back was one of four square pegs crammed into round holes against the Danes; Callum O’Dowda, Harry Arter and James McClean the others. Their number dwindled to three against Wales on Tuesday, but they still let their side down — thrown to the wolves by an incompetent manager long past his sell-by date. Continue reading

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ANALYSIS: Welsh wave of the future engulfs old-fashioned O’Neill

Alan O’Brien 

Martin O’Neill loves to wallow in nostalgia, to recall the halcyon days when his performances were beyond reproach. Criticisms directed his way are tetchily deflected by references to a time when success came easy to the Kilrea native. That time is long gone now, however, and almost everyone except O’Neill knows it. Yet the FAI, in their infinite wisdom, have gifted him the luxury of two more lavishly paid years to figure it out. How kind of them. Continue reading

Analysis: Coleman’s narrow midfield fails to cut the mustard

Alan O’Brien 

Even a general as lucky as Martin O’Neill could not have anticipated the phoney war that the Welsh waged in Cardiff. Chris Coleman best-laid plans made life terribly easy for his opposite number, who still had to rely on Ashley Williams’ latest error to secure victory.

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Euro 2016 Day 2: England full backs show France how it’s done

Walker and Rose show France how it’s done

Like France’s Didier Deschamps, England manager Roy Hodgson selected a 4-1-4-1 system with inverted wingers for his side’s opening group game against Russia. But while the host nation’s narrowness played into Romanian hands, with ageing full backs Bacary Sagna and Patrice Evra unable to regularly provide the requisite width, their younger cross-channel equivalents looked far more dangerous. Continue reading