"He was always the one to instigate a pressing game" - Kilbane dispels some Wes myths

Kev spoke about the recently retired international on this morning's OTB AM

BY Stephen Long 10:17 Friday 9 February 2018, 10:17 9 Feb 2018

Wes Hoolahan during Republic of Ireland's Euro 2016 clash with Belgium ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

Wes Hoolahan's willingness to stray from his position without the ball ultimately led to a lack of more appearances in an Ireland shirt.

That's the opinion of Kevin Kilbane who spoke to Adrian and Eoin on this morning's OTB AM.

The 35 year old announced his retirement from international duty yesterday after 43 caps in a green shirt, scoring 3 goals. However many feel the attacking midfielder should have been a more consistent starter for Ireland given his playmaking qualities.

Kilbane thinks because of the rigid structure almost always implemented by Giovanni Trapattoni and often by Martin O'Neill, Hoolahan was more often than not the man to miss out.

"Certainly he was looked upon as being a weak link when we didn't have the ball which I didn't necessarily agree with, because when you watch Wes play he was always the one that would always instigate the pressing game and close down very very quickly. It was maybe his positional sense [that let him down]."

"If he was playing in a functional team like Giovanni Trapattoni's side you always had to hold the position, you didn't necessarily have a leeway to run out of your shape and maybe get caught out quite quickly. When I look back on that side everyone held their position in a 4-4-2, and if you strayed from that you'd be caught out which was why he didn't necessarily get the gametime under Trapattoni."

"If he stuck to a position and maybe held a role in a side then he would have got more caps."

Martin O’Neill and Wes Hoolahan embrace during a Euro 2016 qualifier against Gibraltar ©INPHO/James Crombie

In many respects Hoolahan was a late-bloomer to English football. After a successful spell at Shelbourne where he won three League of Ireland titles he made the move to Livingston in Scotland before eventually joining up with Blackpool at the age of 24. Two years later he would join Norwich City where he is in his 10th year at the club, making over 300 appearances.

However given the uniqueness of his qualities as an Irish footballer, Adrian put it to Kevin that he may look back on his career with a tinge of regret that he was unable to play at the top level for a longer spell.

"It'll be interesting to see how he would answer that question himself", Kevin replied. "I think he's said it himself in previous interviews that he probably didn't conduct himself properly off the pitch during his younger days and that might have gone against him. It goes to show that careers are over so quickly and judgements are passed on players so quickly when they might have been 19, 20, 21 years old, and that can stay with you the rest of your career."

"That's probably one of the reasons why he didn't go on and play at the absolute top level from when he was a young lad."

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