Expectations going into tonight's 'Irish derby' at the Aviva stadium were not exactly high given the recent run of form the Republic of Ireland have been on, with the visibly low attendance at Lansdowne Road confirming as much. 2018 has been a year to forget for Irish international football with the seemingly endless negativity surrounding Martin O'Neill's squad showing little sign of abating as the year comes to an end. Unfortunately tonight's dour 0-0 draw did little to lighten the mood, which could have soured even more had it not been for a number of fine saves from Darren Randolph.
Coming into tonight's game, results for Northern Ireland hadn't been too kind either with Michael O'Neill's side having lost all three of their UEFA Nations League matches so far, suggesting a double relegation is looming for the teams North and South. But the differences in style between both teams and specifically both managers led to a discussion in the Virgin Media Sport studios during the pre-match coverage, where Brian Kerr laid bare the brutal statistics over the last two years for the Republic.
Since the start of 2017, we've played 17 games. We've won 3, drawn 6 and lost 8. And in those 17 games we've only twice scored 2 goals and no more. We scored two against Moldova and 2 against USA in a friendly. That's abysmal for our international team.
Kerr's criticisms weren't solely based on the team's results as he expressed his frustrations with the unattractive playing style deployed by Martin O'Neill, particularly in light of the success his Northern counterpart has had with arguably more limited resources.
Its also the style of football and the fact that they (Northern Ireland) seem to create lots of chances, even though the results haven't been so good for Michael recently, they've had a go in matches, taken teams on and created numerous chances. We have created very few.
Kerr himself lost his job as Republic of Ireland manager with a more favorable record of 4 wins, 5 draws and 1 defeat back in 2005, so he has first hand experience of the pressure that comes with a disappointing run of results. Kerr's record puts into perspective the calamitous run that O'Neill has overseen since the end of last year, and the team's performance tonight has done anything but build optimism for our trip to Denmark in the coming days. An upturn in form in 2019 is badly needed or else the Aviva won't be filling up for a football match anytime soon.
"Since the start of 2017, we've played 17 games. We've won 3, drew 6 and lost 8. And in those 17 games we've only twice scored 2 goals. That's abysmal."
Brian Kerr on Ireland's recent form and performances in comparison to Northern Ireland. #IRLNIR #VMSport pic.twitter.com/1qWH3bKk1S
— Virgin Media Sport (@VMSportIE) November 15, 2018