As the scales fell from our eyes last night, perhaps it is best to turn elsewhere for balance. Given that Ireland took centre-stage on a relatively quiet international week, and therefore attracted plenty of coverage in the English sports media. The most interesting piece is a seemingly well-sourced piece by Luke Edwards in The Telegraph which talks up the prospect of O'Neill walking out on Ireland, claiming that O'Neill is "seething at the spiteful reaction to the defeat in Dublin and beyond".
Edwards writes that the venom that has been spat at him since means it is now a distinct possibility that he will not continue as Ireland manager", with the piece also claiming that he feels "under-appreciated" with Ireland.
Yet, much like the English, the Irish have an inflated opinion of how good their players are and a strange sense of entitlement when it comes to judging the fortunes of the national team. Ireland did well to get a play-off place, yet O’Neill is slaughtered for failing to win it.
Edwards later writes that, should O'Neill leave, Roy Keane would go with him and continue as his assistant elsewhere. It's highly recommended reading and can be found here.
Elsewhere, Paul Doyle writes in the Guardian that O'Neill was made to pay for a lack of pragmatism, with his double substitution at half-time under the microscope.
O’Neill helped to deliver the coup de grace himself with a couple of half‑time substitutions that undermined the approach he had hitherto sworn by. It would be interesting to know whether any of the Ireland players were tempted to mount a Daniele De Rossi-style protest when the manager announced Ireland would try to find a way back into the game by vacating central midfield.
Gifting space to Christian Eriksen was akin to leaving your car door open and the keys in the ignition when you hear a robber is on the prowl. Risks had to be taken but this one seemed woefully miscalculated – especially as the player introduced in the hope of giving Ireland supremacy out wide was Aiden McGeady.
Oliver Kay of The Times led his report by musing on the genius of Christian Eriksen:
On the eve of this date with destiny, Martin O’Neill warned his Ireland team that they must not “die wondering”. They did not. To suggest they did would be to ignore the reality of this World Cup play-off, which is that they were totally out-thought and outclassed by a Denmark side dancing to the tune of the wonderful Christian Eriksen.
And finally, Miguel Delaney of The Independent argues that the benefits of O'Neill's management brought with it some negatives, laid bare against Denmark:
As we have seen in the more disparate world of international football, old-fashioned emotion-based motivation - and the club-level cohesion it can create in terms of spirit - can have a powerful effect. This is a great quality. It has also has a finite point, as was proven against Denmark. This is a potential great weakness.
It just so often felt as if O’Neill was playing a bit of roulette with the team, disproportionately conditioned by the good luck of Germany missing so many chances in that win in the Euro qualifiers or Scotland just missing their opportunity, or the bad luck of Cyrus Christie diverting the ball into his own goal on Tuesday.
It is a shapeless approach thereby inherently prone to either massive progress like in the Euros or painful collapses as in these play-offs - or just mostly dull displays.