Robbie Savage’s recent criticism of RTÉ’s Eamon Dunphy, his claims that Martin O’Neill’s Republic of Ireland side can be labelled overachievers if they even finish third in their 2018 World Cup Qualification group, and his suggestion that only one current Irish player – the recovering Seamus Coleman – is good enough to fit into the Welsh team have obviously drawn the ire of Dunphy’s former television colleague John Giles.
Writing for The Herald today, Giles tore into the former Welsh international and current BT Sport pundit with a ferocious gusto.
“It would be a sad day indeed if Irish football ever felt it had anything to learn from Robbie Savage,” suggested the former Republic of Ireland player and manager.
“I’ve always wondered how he managed to become a pundit because I find it very hard to take anything he says seriously.
“His job is to offer football analysis but he would be wise to speak about matters he understands when he opens his mouth and at the very least, do some basic research.”
Savage caused quite a furor on Twitter after Ireland’s 1-0 defeat to Serbia at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Tuesday night, when he tweeted a picture of Dunphy, with whom he claimed to be unfamiliar, and accused the veteran pundit of talking “nonsense.”
— Robbie Savage (@RobbieSavage8) September 5, 2017
One of Dunphy’s post-match points in particular – his claim that Ireland would have picked up three points as opposed to one in their previous game against Georgia had Wes Hoolahan started – seemed to baffle Savage.
“I think [Dunphy] said, correct me if I’m wrong please, that if Wes Hoolahan had started against Georgia, they would have got three points – which I find absolutely bizarre,” Savage said at an eir Sports season launch the following day in Dublin. “It’s OK saying that but you have to back it up. I look at Wes Hoolahan’s career and I feel sorry for Wes Hoolahan. I only played against him on one or two occasions because he played the majority of his time in the Championship and he was a fantastic Championship player.
“Yet, you’re telling me Georgia is a very difficult place to go, been there with Wales many times. Georgia were the better side against Wales in Cardiff, should have won the game, Wales got the draw. Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, difficult places to go.
“Yet, Eamon Dunphy was suggesting that a guy who is 35 and can’t get in Norwich’s side on a regular basis in the Championship, if he’d have played, Ireland would have won the game. I don’t want to be disrespectful to Wes Hoolahan, he’s nice on the ball, but if that particular pundit is making such an emphasis on that player, I just thought it was bizarre.”
Giles, however, believes that Savage’s comments show his lack of knowledge when it comes to the Irish setup.
“Age is irrelevant, impact is everything and if Savage even skimmed through the story of Ireland under Martin O’Neill, he would see that the manager doesn’t trust Hoolahan and unfortunately, chooses not to rely on the player who has been the most influential during his time as manager,” wrote Giles.
With Wales picking up maximum points from their last two games, thanks to a 1-0 home victory over Austria and a 2-0 win away to Moldova, and Ireland only managing to take one point from a possible six, Savage’s boys have overtaken Giles’s in UEFA Group D. The Welsh now sit in second with fourteen points – one point ahead of Ireland with two games to play.
Wales visit Georgia on October 6th, while Ireland entertain Moldova at the Aviva. A few days later, on October 9th, Wales and Ireland will play each other at Cardiff City Stadium in a game that will decide the fates of both sides.