Ireland endured a disappointing night on Tuesday, going down 1-0 to Serbia at the Aviva Stadium.
Overall it was a much-improved performance from the 1-1 draw in Georgia at the weekend, but Aleksandar Kolarov killed the momentum that had been building in the Irish team and they never really recovered.
The situation can be truly analysed in the cold light of day, but Eamon Dunphy is in no doubt for who is to blame for the fact that Ireland have now slipped to third in the group and probably need six points from the last two games against Moldova and Wales to even have a chance of making the playoffs.
The RTE pundit has been a vocal critic of the management duo of Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane, and reiterated that opinion in his immediate reaction to the defeat. In particular, Dunphy was critical of O’Neill’s constant rotation – insofar as David Meyler and Wes Hoolahan, though the right choices for this match, were not being used nearly enough amid all the constant chopping and changing:
“When you look at the inconsistency in the management team’s choices between last Saturday when we were outplayed by Georgia, the worst team in the group, and you look the difference there is tonight.
“The changes in selection, changes in style, changes in the role of James McClean for example – he played in midfield tonight which I think is crazy.
“Wes Hoolahan should always play when available. If he’d played against Georgia for one hour on Saturday we would have got three points.
“It’s a sad night really because I don’t think we’ll get to the World Cup but I think the management have questions to answer.
“David Meyler was rightly man-of-the-match. David Meyler has been sitting on the bench for a long time waiting for a chance to go into that slot where Glenn Whelan is.
“There’s many questions you could ask our management team and I don’t know the answers to them but it’s not the players who will cost us our place in the World Cup, it’s Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane.”
Eamon Dunphy: “It’s a sad night. It’s not the players who will cost us our place in the World Cup. It’s Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane.” pic.twitter.com/NMRktd1l8f
— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) September 5, 2017