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17th Nov 2014

Martin O’Neill hits back to questions of style of play with a calculated response

"I'll tell you another stat"

Conan Doherty

Tension filled the air of Martin O’Neill’s pre-match press conference on Monday afternoon as the Ireland manager responded to criticism of his team.

Probably fair enough considering the atmosphere in Dublin was more appropriate of a wake house than it was to a side who had lost their first competitive game of the new regime.

Hit with a statistic that his side completed their lowest number of passes against Scotland, O’Neill raised an eyebrow and came back with a calculated response.

“You mean in the four games?  Well, we’ve actually scored more goals than Scotland in those matches,” he replied.  “They’ve won two games 1-0 and those games have been tight like the game the other night.  We’re playing away from home, we’re the side who I would assume would be under more pressure because we’re playing away from home.  I think that you can draw anything you want but the most important stat is the winning of the game.

“I’ll tell you another stat.  We were going into the game having taken seven points from our games.  We had won away from home in the opening game.  We had gone and done what we had to do against Gibraltar, we won well in that game.  And then we go to Germany and get a result against the world champions.  We didn’t play well enough the other night.  I don’t think Scotland were startlingly brilliant.  I thought the game looked as if it was heading for a draw – it’s never heading for a draw but you know what I mean, you have to see the game through.

“We didn’t play brilliantly and I didn’t think Scotland did either.  I thought it was a disjointed game and it ended up being a bit like a derby game.  We can play much better, we definitely can play better than that.

“I wouldn’t be looking into a stat like that there because you can draw anything that you wanted to from any given stat.  The stats that are important are the results on the board.  We’ve got seven points.  If you had asked me before we kicked off in Georgia if I would’ve taken those points and then gave ourselves a run at home which was always going to be crucial for us, I probably would have.  Would you reverse the scores from Scotland and Germany?  Perhaps.  But we’ve got the seven points on the board.

“We will just be giving absolutely everything to win these games coming up.  We will need a bit of help, of course.  We’ll have to help ourselves, we’ll need help from the crowd as the home side.  It will be interesting to see what it will be like when Poland and Scotland come here to the Aviva.  We have gone now into the lion’s den a couple of times and come out with something.  We actually hit the bar in the last minute against Scotland and could’ve got a draw.  There’s massive disappointment at this point because we didn’t win the game but there’s not gloom or doom or despair.

“We’re putting everything that we’ve got into the results that we have to get in 2015.  That’s the case.”

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