Ireland verses France

Eamon Dunphy is an ex-Millwall, Charlton and Reading player who played for Ireland 23 times back in the early 1970’s. He’s now a qualified coach, author and football pundit for Irish television channel RTE, but he’s more famous for his outspoken and controversial opinions.

When Ireland drew with Italy 2-2 last month, being only three minutes away from beating the Italians, Dunphy blasted the Irish performance as “shameful.” Dunphy is not a fan of the Irish style of play. He called Jack Charlton a bully and accused him of not making the best use of the players at his disposal, claiming that his Irish teams played “ugly football.” Now he is a critic of Giovanni Trappatoni’s style of play and managerial decisions.

On 5 September, 2009, after Ireland’s last minute 2-1 away win against Cyprus, Dunphy stated “The performance over 90 minutes was depressing; it exposed the limitations of the coach’s philosophy.”

Dunphy summed up how he felt about the Irish style of play under Trappatoni by writing: “When kids see Lionel Messi, Steven Gerrard or Ronaldo they want to go out in the park and do what they’ve seen the guys do the night before. Nobody wants to go out in the park in the morning and hit the ball 60 yards up in air.”

Dunphy is not the only critic of Ireland’s long ball approach to football. So is Roy Keane. Today Roy talks about his time playing for Ireland under Jack Charlton. If you’re a Frenchman, it makes an interesting read:

“Charlton’s approach to football was profoundly at odds with the game we played at Nottingham Forest. Passing the ball was not a priority. What he demanded was a kind of football by numbers, the emphasis being on inconveniencing the opposition rather than being creative ourselves. The idea was to fire long balls in behind the opposing defense, then hunt them down, with the intention of trapping them in their own half of the field, where we hoped we’d force them to make mistakes. “Put them under pressure” was Jack’s football conviction. And “Make no mistakes, don’t fanny around in your own half of the field.”

“Not knowing exactly what was expected of me, apart from the effort I was happy to provide, I kept my head down and did my best to work out if there was any more to Charlton’s magic formula than there appeared… Time would prove that there wasn’t.”

“Playing for Ireland was a strange experience. Ireland had some very good footballers, yet playing football in any systematic way in the pass and move style we adopted at Forest was frowned upon by Charlton. My job was to close down the opposition and if possible win the ball. Having gained possession, passing to an Irish colleague seemed the obvious next move.”

“But that wasn’t what Charlton wanted. His fear of Ireland giving the ball away – especially in our own half of the field – caused real inhibitions for me and most of the other players, who were forced to adapt to our own games to the Charlton method.”

“The strikers instructions were:
(a) to win the long balls knocked up to them;
(b) to try and get in behind their markers for long balls played into space behind defenders.”

“In situation (a), myself and Andy Townsend were to push forward to try and win balls knocked down or flicked on by the tall strikers.”

“In situation (b) the whole side pushed forward with the intention of trapping our opponents in their own territory.”

France know what they’re up against on Saturday. A physical war where the right attitude is everthing. Ireland’s most creative player is Damien Duff. Robbie Keane is their goal threat and Stephen Hunt of Hull is their midfield enforcer. Shay Given is their best defender and he plays in goal.

Trappatoni’s assistant is Liam Brady, Arsenal’s Academy Director.

Ireland v France will be interesting.

Keep it Arsenal.

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