“I don’t know where the players have gone. It’s sad.”
Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson gave a dismissive assessment of the Republic of Ireland following their international friendly defeat to England last week.
The Boys in Green struggled against England, falling to a 3-0 defeat at Wembley in what was a comfortable afternoon for Gareth Southgate’s side.
England played a side that was far from full strength while a number of players who featured for Ireland in the game were forced to pull out of the squad ahead of the important UEFA Nations League game against Bulgaria.
The subject of having international friendlies, given the current COVID-19 pandemic, has been widely discussed with many questioning the need to have the games take place at all.
Many teams are already seeing a host of players suffer injuries given how hectic the schedule has been, which has lead to some clubs calling for a return to the five substitutes rule from last season.
Speaking on Sky Sports’ Soccer Saturday, Paul Merson gave a damning indictment of Ireland’s friendly against England and claimed that ‘it’s sad’ what has happened to Irish football.
“The problem with the idea of bringing five subs back is that the big teams aren’t even using the three they’ve been given right now.
“It’s okay complaining about the workload on players. But why are we playing the Republic of Ireland in a pointless friendly then?
“Let’s be honest, our B team could have beaten Ireland. What’s the point? It’s a shame what’s happened to Irish football. I don’t know where the players have gone. It’s sad.
“And then we play Iceland in a total dead rubber when we can’t qualify for the Nations League finals any more, so it’s a total waste of time.”
Paul Merson continued outlining that he believes the international friendlies represent ‘meaningless games’ that should not be played.
“We just shouldn’t be playing all these meaningless games. It’s not about five subs and helping the big teams out. It’s about not playing so many games.
“Even just training with England takes it out of you. It’s not like training with your club. It’s intense.
“Everyone is trying to impress and they don’t have long to make an impression. You come back mentally drained.”