Football

Has Jeff Hendrick Finally Found The Right Manager After Five Years?

Has Jeff Hendrick Finally Found The Right Manager After Five Years?

Ireland's 4-0 victory over Qatar has given Stephen Kenny and co a bit of breathing room.

Callum Robinson will grab many a headline for his hattrick performance, but many have heaped praise on Jeff Hendrick's efforts on Tuesday night.

Speaking to us on The Buildup, former Republic of Ireland international Kevin Doyle gave his thoughts on Ireland's setup going forward and his former teammate Hendrick.

Ireland's Style Of Play

"We looked like we could score at every opportunity, which we haven't done in a long time," Doyle said in his assessment of the 4-0 win.

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We weren't as welded to the 'have to play it out from the back', take our time, build it slowly. We moved the ball a lot quicker. It just seemed to be a little bit more direct.

While the last two Republic of Ireland qualifiers will be lauded for the goal scoring efforts, Doyle says the two clean sheets have helped more than you would think.

"Two clean sheets makes it a lot easier when you don't concede," he said. "Takes the pressure off the strikers."

Speaking on the victory, Doyle said his 8-year-old son was one of the biggest Ireland fans after the result. "First time I think he seen us win!" he joked.

A lot has been said of the goals, but Doyle has seen changes in the team's style of play that have led to the goals. He reckons they will have benefitted from years of coaching.

"Everyone of those players playing last night was not brought up rigidly in a 4-4-2," Doyle said. "They're all coming up from a system of modern football."

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When I said we went more direct last night, I mean direct as in we looked forward, quicker and earlier with a pass, we looked to penetrate better.

The Jeff Hendrick Performance

Hendrick has amassed 66 caps now for his country, and seems to be relishing his midfield role under Stephen Kenny. Doyle acknowledged his efforts.

"I thought Jeff Hendrick, in the last two games, Stephen has stuck with him. It's the best I've seem him play in an Ireland jersey in a long time."

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Doyle played with Hendrick in the Republic of Ireland setup between 2013 and 2017. "Great to see that, he's a great lad, Jeff."

"Great to see one of the more experienced players still being involved and playing really well."

When it comes to Hendrick and his club form, which often translates into the international success, Doyle sees reasons why he's had lull periods in his career.

"I always thought he had so much potential and I played with him, I played against him when he was at Derby. He was excellent at Derby and made his name at Derby."

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Then he went to Burnley and he's under Sean Dyche. No disrespect to Burnley, they're good under Sean Dyche but the ball does bypass midfielders a lot. I don't think it brings the best out of him. The same with Ireland - he's under Mick McCarthy or Martin O'Neill. It's a different style of football and I don't think it suits Jeff to the best of his ability.

Doyle reckons Hendrick might not have been suited to Steve Bruce's style of football at Newcastle too, as it's similarly aligned with a McCarthy or Dyche.

"Where he's played his best football is under a more technical style of play, maybe, they would have played 3-5-2 at Derby a good bit under Steve McClaren," Doyle said.

"Maybe it's bringing the best out of him because he's playing under a manager that's playing to his strengths more."

The Republic of Ireland will now turn their attention to Portugal on November 11th, where Cristiano Ronaldo and co will be welcomed to the Aviva.

Looking back on the two wins, despite one being a friendly, Doyle says it's a weight off Stephen Kenny's shoulders and for the players.

"Two wins, I know two friendlies against those two teams, it still means a lot."

See Also: Ireland Player Ratings As Callum Robinson Shines Again In Qatar Mauling

Jonathan Byrne

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