So here we are, under the new dawning of Irish football with King Kenny riding to the rescue. Fairy tales and Ireland soccer don’t really fit and our first two games under Kenny, were a bit more a Brothers Grimm then a Cinderella outcome.
In many respects, just like when Mick McCarthy started there was all to many similarities of old, conceding a goal first and a mad frantic last 10 minutes and Duffy scores. It nearly happened twice in Ireland’s first two games of the Nations League, with Duffy just missing to equalise against Finland. Sports Betting isn’t the easiest of arts and you can chose different options online at https://www.bestcasinosites.
We have to look at the opposition, Bulgaria when they played Ireland in a friendly recently were so bad it was incredible and the results in their pathetic Euro 2020 qualifying group only backed that up. But they have a new manager so we will give Kenny a pass on that.
Finland, while having qualified for their first major tournaments and like many European teams like Iceland, Albania and Northern Ireland are massively improving and are no longer push overs, but neither are they of the standard of Denmark and Wales from the last Nations League games.
Results wise, a thoroughly underwhelming start for Kenny. But Rome wasn’t built in a day, and this Ireland team has a long road ahead, and you must start to dig deeper into these games to get a sign of things to come.
Finally, our one key failing was still glaringly obvious, we lack goal scorers up front and from midfield.
63% possession against Bulgaria, for one. 53% against Finland, If you discount games against minnows like Gibraltar, Ireland never dominate games. The stats for Martin O’Neill’s possession in his last campaign were easily the most depressing I’ve ever seen. Passing accuracy, the number of passes and more shots are all higher then in our previous managers games.
Aaron Connolly, looks like he could be the player that will finally get us some badly needed goals, he came close against Bulgaria.
It was weird seeing such a short list of 24 players, we had become so accustomed to seeing 40+ players which was just confusing. His mix of younger new players like Darragh Lenihan, Jayson Molumby, Adam Idah and Troy Parrott are a sign of things to come, picking the in form Matt Doherty ahead of captain Seamus Coleman was a sign of a manager not afraid to pick the players he thinks are best. Shane Long, Harry Arter and James McCarthy back was great to see. There was some absentees like Michael Obafemi but these players will get their chances, particularly with the amount of games coming up.
Slovakia Watch Euro 2020 play off 1
The biggest prospect here in truth is Slovakia been way worse then we were in our Nations League games, losing 3-1 at home to the Czech Republic and getting a very lucky draw away to Israel. Their stats in both games make for positive reading.
Match stats Nations League games
Israel v Slovakia
Finally, these two games will have given Kenny plenty of time to see the players up close and see who would work best in which positions. Any manager would need a lot more time to work with his players before a massive play off game away, but there was enough to see in our first two games of the changes he wants. If that isn’t enough to see us past Slovakia so be it, Kenny is not here for the short term.
Words Alan Phelan