Former Republic of Ireland striker Stephen Elliott joined Football Saturday to assess Ireland’s Nations League campaign and some of Stephen Kenny’s stand out performers.
The Republic of Ireland collected four points out of a possible twelve over their most recent international window, in a culmination of fixtures which saw emotions teeter between peaks and troughs.
Stephen Elliott joined the Football Show virtually yesterday with John Duggan, Dan McDonnell and Johnny Ward in studio to reflect on what lessons can be learned from the Nations League.
Much like the football itself, the campaign is one to be judged as “a kind of a game of two halves” says Elliott, who, after the disappointment of the Areminia and Ukraine opening games came away from the latter Scotland and the Ukraine matches “full of positivity.”
“Overall you would have to say that it was a success because the manager was able to turn things around from the first two games” he says.
“Before the games I was looking at the fixtures with the form we were in and you’re kind of looking at the Armenia game thinking that was almost a guaranteed win.
Then obviously the Scotland game you’re thinking that might be a draw and then I just didn’t expect us to beat Ukraine after watching them against Scotland in the playoff game.
To come away with four points isn’t the worst outcome and as I said to come away from the last two games in the manner which we did is the thing that fills me with positivity.”
Another note of positivity among fans has been the emergence of some breakout new stars who combined for some sensational goals- Michael Obafemi, Troy Parrot and Nathan Collins.
“In the Scotland game Obafemi was electric. He was having one of those days where everything went right for him and he was kind of unplayable at times. Even the assist for Troy’s goal was very good but his goal was out of this world and you’re not going to see many better than that in international football.
The only disappointing thing was he wasn’t able to continue that form into the Ukraine game having picked up a slight injury but no there’s something to work with there.”
Elliot points out that the chemistry between the pair is what brought their talent to the fore, as well as the way they have matured as players as of late.
“We didn’t always see that from Parrot when he first came onto the scene, which is probably expected as well because he’s still only a young lad and learning.
I think we have seen though in these games the fact that he has had a full season of first team football under his belt.
It showed in the positions he was picking up and that he was a focal point for the team. I thought he was really good.”
That question of the impact of first team football is still one that lingers amid the back line, with Collins and Shane Duffy both vying for centre stage.
If he’s going to go with a back three Nathan Collins is the guy that should be in the centre of that back three. It’s not even on the ball I just think he’s willing to sort of stand up and play a little bit higher up the pitch. That sends a message to the rest of the team” says Elliott.
“Come September it just depends who’s playing regular first team football. If Duffy’s not playing is he going to just play him anyways? I presume Duffy is going to play somewhere but if he’s not playing regular football I think it’s a risk putting them there.”
“If Stephen wants to change the style we play he’s got to be looking at how we can improve.
I think if he really wants to implement that into his set up he’s got to start looking away from players that can’t do what he wants to do.”
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