Eamon Dunphy wasn’t holding back when discussing Ireland manager Martin O’Neill and assistant Roy Keane’s tactical approach to last weekend’s draw in Georgia.
The pair have been lambasted not just for the poor result but the overall performance, and the RTE pundit was in no mood to let them away with anything.
Speaking on 2FM’s Game On programme on Monday night Dunphy absolved the players of the blame and said that fans’ ire must be directed squarely at the management team for their lack of organisation and shape throughout:
“The team has no shape. (O’Neill and Keane) have been in charge now for three years. It doesn’t have any recognisable identity, except that you know the players will fight.
“The players want to play for Ireland. They’ll fight til the bitter end and they’ve got some really good results. But when you take a closer look, for example Saturday’s game… shocking.
“It was badly organised. Shane Long was isolated. They dropped way too deep. Wes Hoolahan was sitting on the bench. James McClean was heroic but where was he playing?
“Nobody was in a designated position. Harry Arter who plays for Bournemouth, who are a passing team with a top coach, Eddie Howe, he must have had a headache trying to come to terms with this shambles. It was a shambles. There’s no other word for it. “
Dunphy also made reference to one of his major bones of contention, the continued absence of Wes Hoolahan. The Norwich playmaker didn’t feature at all in Tbilisi (possibly with one eye on Tuesday’s game) and that is something that the former Irish international can’t get his head around:
“These guys have their mind made up about Wes. They don’t respect him. He’s a terrific player. They don’t want him because… I don’t know they’re mystery men.
“Glenn Whelan gives us nothing and Wes gives us an awful lot. You only have to look back to our best away result in Vienna against Austria. Wes delivered a beautiful pass to James McClean who put it in the back of the net. The significance of Whelan is he went off injured after 25 minutes and we improved as a side.
“It would be nice if Wes Hoolahan started Tuesday night but I think that train has left the station.”
Dunphy then circled back to what was being practiced on the training ground, where he called Keane’s role in the whole setup into question:
“I don’t know what Keane is doing and I don’t know what they’re looking at, what they’re doing, what they’re seeing on the training ground.
“My suspicion is that they’re not doing very much because you just couldn’t get it that wrong. I don’t know what Keane does to be honest. He gives good press conferences.”
Ireland head into Tuesday night’s World Cup qualifier against Serbia at the Aviva knowing that, really, only a win will do if they want to keep alive their hopes of finishing in top spot in the group.