Martin O’Neill on Ireland v France.
Martin O’Neill feels that Ireland should have taken more of a gamble in their 1-0 Euro 2024 qualifying defeat to France at the Aviva Stadium on Monday night.
The former Ireland boss was on punditry duty for Viaplay in the UK, and while he was impressed with the solidity shown by Stephen Kenny’s side, the Derryman felt that they should have been more proactive after Benjamin Pavard’s 50th-minute goal.
O’Neill compared this to his own nadir in the Ireland dugout, when his team lost 5-1 at home to Denmark in a World Cup 2018 play-off.
He recalled that on that occasion, the dice was rolled at at half-time, when his team were just 2-1 down and in the knowledge that defeat would see them fail to qualify for the tournament in Russia.
Martin O’Neill: “Ireland should have gambled against France.
“I think perhaps maybe throw caution to the wind a wee bit earlier than that,” said O’Neill.
“For instance, in my game against Denmark, never to be forgotten. We are 2-1 down at half-time and we have to score two goals in the second half.
“Really, the side that I had in the first half would not have been constructive enough to score two goals.
“I took a chance by throwing on Wes Hoolahan and Aidan McGeady, knowing we would lose a lot physically and the next goal was going to be crucial. We concede it and then fall, but I don’t mind.
“It doesn’t really matter if you conceded three or four. When you are trying to qualify for a competition, you have to take a gamble at some stage or another.”
France and Denmark comparisons.
While O’Neill may have a point about taking more of an attacking gamble after going behind, Monday night’s game against France was much less of a desperate situation.
Kenny’s side went in scoreless at the break, and the game was still very much on a knife-edge in the 15 minutes between Pavard’s strike and the 65th-minute introduction of Adam Idah for Evan Ferguson.
Also, O’Neill faced a do-or-die situation against Denmark, while Kenny’s side were widely expected to taste defeat in their opening qualifier against France, and know that they have seven more group matches to put things right.