'The Irish media kind of get a kick out of us not doing well' - James McClean
Great craic altogether.
James McClean has taken aim at those in the Irish media that he believes are getting some sort of enjoyment from the national team's prolonged struggles.
Ireland sit just ahead of Azerbaijan on goal difference, and five points adrift of Luxembourg, in Group A of the Uefa section of the World Cup Qualifiers. They have lost three of their first four games and drew 1-1 with 112th ranked Azerbaijan on Saturday.
Since they defeated New Zealand in November 2019, then drew with Denmark, it has been a grim two years for the senior men's team. They got to a Euro 2020 playoff eliminator but lost that on penalties to Slovakia. They have lost seven times - including defeats to Finland, Luxembourg and Wales - drawn seven and only won once [a friendly against Andorra].
While there have been positive performances, in away defeats to Slovakia and Portugal, Ireland have struggled to score goals and have conceded several sloppy ones. There have been good stretches of play but the end product has often been lacking.
Consistency has been an issue, but Ireland boss Stephen Kenny can point to him bringing through several young players that could yet represent this country with distinction for much of the next decade. However, for every green shoot [Portugal away, for example] there is a frustrating result [Azerbaijan] around the corner.
In his Monday chat with reporters, to help preview Tuesday's game against Serbia, James McClean suggested that many in the Irish media have taken a form of pleasure in the team's plight. On his younger teammates, and how to support them, McClean said:
"We have to just rally around them and tell them just to pay no attention because funnily enough, the media in Ireland is just as bad, if not worse, than the media in England. They kind of get a kick out of us not doing well.
"It's a shame, really, but as senior players, we have been here a long time, we know how it works and the young players need to learn, so we just have to tell them, 'you know what, it's part and parcel of football, pay no attention'.
"People are fickle. As soon as we start winning games, then you're the best in the world again. Like I say, we need to start winning games and when we do, the criticism goes away."
McClean admitted it is 'always difficult when you're not winning games'.
"I don't want to use a cop-out and say it's a transition period because I think that's easy to cling on to," he told RTÉ. "We need to start winning games.
"Look, you can say we have young players coming through and what not. Look, we're here now, we need to stand up, every single one of us, and start being counted, and that comes by winning games. We have got another chance to do that on Tuesday and we have to just start winning games, it's as simple as that."
McClean must go into that game against Serbia without his captain, Seamus Coleman. The Everton defender was ruled out of the game, on Sunday, and Cyrus Christie has been called up as cover.
Ireland take on Serbia from 7:45pm at the Aviva Stadium, on Tuesday.