It was a massive relief to finally see Ireland win a competitive game on Saturday night.
The overall performance in Azerbaijan was a decent one, with the amount of chances that were created especially encouraging. There were some aspects that will need improving on (especially in the middle third), but it was an encouraging night.
It is certainly a big boost for Stephen Kenny. With the team quickly coming towards the end of this qualifying campaign, a discussion is likely to be had over his future in the months ahead.
Having a 3-0 competitive win away from home under his belt will do his case no harm, although some believe we will need to see further improvements from the team if he is to guarantee his future as Ireland boss.
Speaking on Virgin Media last night, both Brian Kerr and Richard Dunne said that this result alone should not be enough to earn a new contract.
Dunne said that it was a good performance, although it has to be taken in context with the other results so far during Kenny's tenure.
— Virgin Media Sport (@VMSportIE) October 10, 2021
I think you have to look at the previous 17 games and not take [Azerbaijan] on its own. As good as it was, you're playing against a team that is ranked 117th in the world in a fixture that we should be winning.
Yes the performance was good. To win 3-0 and keep a clean sheet id a really good score for Ireland. I don't think we should take away from the positivity, but we shouldn't concern ourselves too much with going into if the manager should stay or not stay.
At the end of the group stages, then we look back. If we can get ourselves up to third position then okay, you start to think that's where we should have finished.
To be rewarded with a new contract after one victory away to Azerbaijan, I don't think we're quite there at the moment.
Some good performances, and ideally another win or two, in the three fixtures before the end of the year would certainly go a long way to ending any doubt about Kenny's future. That starts with tomorrow's friendly against Qatar, with a home game against Portugal and a trip to Luxembourg to come next month.
Brian Kerr said that this campaign has been well short of what we would expect from Ireland, even accounting for the rebuilding job currently underway.
Stephen was excited when he came in that we were starting in three competitions over a year. We went out of one of them really quickly when we lost to Slovakia in the semi-final we went out of the Nations League without winning a match, three draws and three defeats.
We went out of the World Cup after four or five games. We had two points after five games and now we're scrapping not to finish last and to try and finish third.
Meanwhile, Scotland are in a good position to make the play-off in second place, Wales are in a similar position...
Our ambition always has to be in with a shout in the last couple of games. This at the moment is not really acceptable.
I accept that there are new players coming and that the team needed to be rebuilt and all that, but I think after the last two games of the group - Portugal and Luxembourg away - then we can have an assessment.
Hopefully some good results in the weeks ahead will give Ireland some momentum heading into 2022.