For Mick McCarthy, the goal for Monday’s game is clear. Regardless of the level of opposition, three points comes first, the performance comes second.
The start to life under the former Ipswich boss has been wholly positive, despite a lethargic start at the Victoria Stadium, with seven points from a possible nine in the group and a significant upgrade in the style of play.
A strong point away to Denmark will mean little however if they don’t see to the task at hand and duly dispatch of the group’s perceived minnows Gibraltar on home turf.
The sense is that the Boys in Green should be easily defeating their mostly part-time opponents on Monday night with an expectation that anything less than, say a three or four goal to nil win, will be seen as a disappointment.
Speaking to the media on Monday, the Irish manager stressed that ten points from the opening four games is the number one goal regardless of how that is achieved.
“I want to win the game. I don’t get this about how we have to be expansive. We tried that. We were expansive against Georgia and had lots of chances. We scored one, but we won the game.
“We weren’t allowed to be expansive in Gibraltar but we scored one and won the game. I thought we played well in Denmark and one goal gets us the draw. So long as we win I’m not bothered.
“I’m not saying we are going out to do anything else. We try and play football. But I want to win. I want 10 points. It’s a borderline silly question. I want to win.
“My teams have always played like that. I never tried to do anything else. I said when I got the job, I wanted to have a team like the teams I’ve played in and like the teams I managed before, 17 or 18 years ago that were aggressive.”
The criticism of the first time Ireland squared off with Gibraltar was the difficulty at which it took to get out of the game with the three points, the performance, on a tricky surface in uncomfortable conditions, a major cause for concern for Irish fans.
Admittedly it’s improved drastically since then but how does McCarthy view a standout performance in the context of Monday’s game?
“Of course a performance would be important but I am sat here trying to stress the importance of winning,”
“Will it be great if we play really well and draw 0-0? I want to win the game. Yes it would be lovely walking off and we’ve had a good result and everyone is happy, the squad has a few goals.
“But we are playing against a team who are coming here desperate to stop us doing that and we have to try and break them down. We will do everything in our powers to break them down.
“For all the football that was played the other night, both goals came from two crosses, both brilliant headers. Do you call that wonderful flowing football? I am not so sure.”
McCarthy has named quite an attacking side for the game with David McGoldrick, Scott Hogan and Callum Robinson all starting for the Boys in Green however the Irish boss doesn’t mind who scores and how they get it as long as his side pick up the three points.
“If it ends in a scrappy 1-0 win, off somebody’s backside, I am not bothered, I will take the win.”