Highlights on Off The Ball

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Highlights on Off The Ball


Ireland need to bring control to their midfield - John Giles

John Giles thinks leadership and experience is the challenge for this Ireland team after the Armenia game.

John Giles joined Nathan Muprhy on The Football Show on Thursday to look back at Ireland vs. Armenia.

Ireland beat Armenia 3-2 on Tuesday night.

John Egan scored from a set piece, Michael Obafemi scored from distance and Robbie Brady hit the winner in his return. In short, the game had everything really. Stephen Kenny's style was in the passing and the result was three points.

Everyone should be happy.

And yet, nobody is.

A crazy couple of minutes from Ireland's midfielders and a weak hand from Gavin Bazunu combined to give away a two-goal lead. Armenia brought the game back to 2-2 and Ireland were lucky to escape with a 3-2 win in the end.

John Giles points to the lack of leadership and experience on the field.

"You don't sit back," Giles said.

"That's one way of doing it, but it's not the best either. Hopefully you have a player in the middle of the field who realizes this is what we do. It's all different situations, whether you're winning 1-0, 2-0, 3-0 or you're two down or you're three down. Then it's what do we do next?

"Stephen [Kenny] said afterwards the problem was we went for the third goal. You don't have to go for the third goal."

It's a point that makes sense because Ireland have an inexperienced side. Kenny started seven players under 23 years of age, so there aren't that many caps in the starting lineup. Some of those young players will develop into leaders over time.

Josh Cullen is the closest thing Ireland have to an experienced midfielder who can control the game, but he was suspended on Tuesday. Conor Hourihane and Jeff Hendrick were central to Ireland's failings. Jayson Molumby wasn't on the field because he showed his inexperience risking a red card earlier.

Kenny was right to substitute Molumby but it left Ireland without that control in midfield that Giles speaks of.

"We don't have anybody on the pitch who looks at it that particular way. This is the state on the pitch, we've got to get a grip of the ball. And by getting a grip of the ball...without attacking in a furious way, you can keep hold of the ball.

"Take the sting out of it.

"We've got a lot of good players, but I don't see anybody experienced enough to read it in a way and sense this is not going our way. And this was before they scored. We've got to get a grip of the ball and do what we need to do in a 2-0 situation."

Should Ireland use Jeff Hendrick more?


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Conor Hourihane Jeff Hendrick John Giles Josh Cullen Stephen Kenny