An awful lot of sense here from the legendary Irish defender after the Finland defeat.
While most level-headed Irish supporters understand that Stephen Kenny needs time to implement the changes that he wants to make, the harsh reality is that he’s still searching for his first win as Ireland manager following another defeat to Finland.
After five games in charge, Kenny has lost 3, drew 2, and only managed to score one goal.
Ireland are creating more chances and they look far more comfortable in possession, and while the Nations League results can be more easily overlooked, it’s the defeat to Slovakia that really stings.
A lack of goals is the main problem with the Ireland team – something that Aaron Connolly spoke candidly about in his post-match interview with Sky Sports – but with Ireland enjoying more possession, some people have been calling for more creativity and the need for a specialised Number 10.
Since moving to Newcastle, Jeff Hendrick has been playing higher up the field and been more influential in the opposition’s half, something that has carried over to his role in the Irish side during Kenny’s brief tenure.
Speaking with Off the Ball, Richie Dunne was asked if he sees Hendrick as a long-term option in the Number 10 role and as someone that can provide the killer ball for Ireland’s strikers?
“I like him. I think he’s probably not quite lived up to the potential when he first kicked on and started playing for Ireland. He’s probably not achieved what we wanted him to do but for me, I feel as if he’s almost too far up the pitch. Starting off too far up the pitch, he could probably start a little deeper. I agree with Stephanie (Roche) in terms of is the number 10 really is a role anymore? You try and cover that space as a team and your attacking midfielders push up.
“We haven’t got this player who can do those passes, so why try and fit someone into a position that we can’t really fill? The joy that we got tonight, a lot of it was from getting the ball wide and getting crosses in. A lot of people might think that’s going back to the old way, but it’s not. That’s how you play football and win games – you try one thing and if it doesn’t work, you get it down the line and cross it. For us, it’s important that we don’t get too focused on ‘we need for a number 10’ or ‘ we need to pass the ball through the lines’ and all this stuff, if the option is there to go wide and get the ball into the box, why not take it?,” said Dunne.
Later in the conversation, the legendary Irish centre-back was asked if he’s hopeful that Kenny’s style of play will lead to wins in the future.
However, the former Man City and Everton defender was pragmatic about the desire to improve the style of play while also obtaining the most important thing in football, wins.
“I’m hopeful, I hope that it turns. We need to be very careful that we don’t sort of take a positive spin from things and let the fact that we’re losing games be sort of ok. There needs to be an element that the results are massively important. I think tonight, you look at things like Dara O’Shea coming in at centre-half, I thought he was excellent. Enda Stevens has been brilliant and there have been good performances from the players. We just need to not accept that getting beat, drawing 0-0, and being knocked out of the Euros is acceptable and positive. The end result is that we need to win games.
“I’d love to see us play possession-based football and that we win the game. At the moment, we just haven’t got over the line and finished off the chances we’ve created. I get that there’s a change and a new style we want to get, but it can’t sort of overtake the fact that we need results and for us to progress and qualify. We need results, not performances,” said Dunne.
You can view his comments in full below.