In a week of mad opinions, this takes the cake.
Richard Dunne was discussing Ireland vs France on Tuesday night, during Virgin Media’s coverage of Scotland vs Spain.
It’s understandable that one of Ireland’s best players in recent years was asked about the state of the current national team, but his response is as baffling as any commentary that has been made this week.
While Brian Kerr and Damien Delaney tore into the Ireland performance against the World Cup runners-up the night before, Dunne took it a step further during his analysis on Tuesday.
Dunne insisted that Ireland may have changed their style to try and see out the game against such a good side, before going on to say that Ireland “should” be qualifying from this group.
This is a group consisting of France, Netherlands, Greece and Gibraltar, where only the top two go through.
France are a penalty shootout away from winning back-to-back World Cups, and have currently the best player in the world captaining them.
Netherlands got to a World Cup quarter-final a few short months ago, and were knocked out on penalties by the eventual winners.
Ireland on the other hand, started the game vs France with two midfielders who play in the Championship, and one in League One.
Richard Dunne on Ireland vs France
The average age of Ireland’s team was under 25, while the majority of that France squad just played a full World Cup campaign.
Realising that in ten years time Evan Ferguson will only be 28, Nathan Collins will be 31, Gavin Bazunu will be 31, Jason Knight will be 32 and captain Jayson Molumby will be 33 ☘#COYBIG pic.twitter.com/yA7XC0DLMl
— Kenny's Kids (@KennysKids) March 28, 2023
It is baffling to suggest that Ireland “should” be finishing ahead of either France of Netherlands, and it’s more realistic to suggest that we should be aiming for third ahead of Greece, a side we are much closer to in quality.
Dunne did go on to say that he doesn’t feel Ireland should be judged on the performance vs France, and that it’s the next two games that will matter the most.
But this sort of commentary is not helpful, as it makes people’s expectations of this young Ireland team become something they should not be.
Netherlands have players starting every week for Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Barcelona. Ireland? We’re lucky if our best centre-back can get into the Wolves team.
Kerr, Dunne and Delaney have all made it quite clear that they aren’t too pleased with the job Stephen Kenny is doing, which is fair enough, but if you can find one Irish person other than Dunne who believes we “should” be finishing ahead of Netherlands, they must be thinking about a different sport.