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31st Aug 2023

“In time, people will look back on Vera Pauw with a favourable tone.” – Damien Delaney

Niall McIntyre

From within the Ireland women’s camp, slowly but surely, the good-will appears to have evaporated for Vera Pauw.

Let’s rewind for a second.

When Martin O’Neill stepped down as Ireland manager in 2018, Jon Walters and Jeff Hendrick were among the players who wished him an emotional goodbye on social media.

“Have many great memories that will stay with me for life. Thank you boss,” said Hendrick.

“I have the utmost respect for Martin,” said Walters, “as he is and always has been fantastic for me.”

Social media goodbyes and well-wishes have, naturally with the growth of the various platforms, become even more prevalent in the mean-time to the extent that now, when a manager leaves a club or a country, it’s almost seen as the done-thing.

But Pauw’s removal as Irish women’s manager has, on the other hand, been met with radio silence from her players.

There hasn’t been one thank you or one goodbye from the players she guided to the World Cup in Australia. This can’t be perceived in any other way as being strange.

The ‘real negative distraction,’ as Katie McCabe described it, of the anonymous allegations of bullying during her time as Houston Dash coach certainly seems to have been something of a tipping point.

These allegations, published by the Athletic, came out very close to the World Cup and the mood-music never really seemed to recover thereafter.

The detailed report, as it is being described, that was compiled by mainly players and management and heard at the FAI Board meeting on Tuesday – the meeting that eventually decided on Pauw’s dismissal – will certainly make for an interesting read should it be shared.

For now though, we’re all on the outside looking in, and from that standpoint, former Irish internationals Keith Treacy and Damien Delaney made some interesting points on Virgin Media on Wednesday night.

“From the outside looking in, when you look at it from a footballing perspective, she’s been harshly-done-by,” said Treacy.

“When you see the thing with Katie McCabe, throwing her arms up against Nigeria, you just see a little hint of disrespect between the two.

“That’s natural, and that can happen when you’ve been in a camp for so long.

“But you just started to feel that a couple of the bigger egos in the dressing room were starting to go against her…”

‘What we’ve seen now is player power, the girls have decided that they’re not gelling with Vera.

“To be fair, that hasn’t transferred onto the pitch. I don’t think we were looking onto the pitch thinking, ‘something’s not right here.’ To my eye, they were playing for her, playing well,” added the former Burnley and Blackburn player.

Delaney, meanwhile, says that, in time, Pauw’s legacy will shine brighter.

“Look, it’s very difficult to get a handle on what’s happened.

“There’s obviously a bit of a disconnect between the players and the manager. Something is not quite right. Perhaps in the future, the reasons and the report might be published.

“But unless you’re in the room and can get a feel for what’s being said, how it’s being said and how it’s being taken you know, it’s very hard to come down on either side. There’s been a clear disconnnect and invariably, the manager pays the price.

“But her legacy will shine better in time. She broke through that glass-ceiling.

“She inspired a generation of young girls to take up the sport, to increase the player pool size in Ireland.

“I remember as a young boy watching Italia ’90, USA ’94, that was what got us into football, made us want to be professional footballers.

“Hopefully there’s a generation of young girls and in time, people will look back on Vera Pauw with a favourable tone.”

You can watch the full House of Football below.

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