Irish international Jon Walters was critical of Ireland's approach in tonight's 0-0 Nations League draw with Denmark in Aarhus. The Ipswich striker missed the game through injury, so appeared as a pundit on Sky's coverage of the game. Walters was critical of Ireland's sitting too deep, and failure to press Denmark high up the pitch.
It's difficult when you're defending so deep, and you have practically 11 men behind the ball within 40 yards of your own goal, so you're going to concede possession and the opposition are going to have a lot of crosses and a lot of chances, which Denmark did today.
It's from there: how do you break, and what platform do you build on to go through the pitch. Does someone have pace, does everyone know when there's a trigger, and we're going to go now? Or, it seems to be, like today, when we do win it back, we're so tired from winning it back that nobody really wants to show for it.
There were plenty of times tonight that the Denmark 'keeper had the ball, and we ran back into our own half. I don't see the point in that. I know we want to get a good result and not concede, but you have four changes out of [Denmark's] back five. Put a bit of pressure on them.
Have that trigger; allow them to play it to the centre-half and then everyone press; have a high press. What are they going to do? They'll kick it long. We have three big centre-halves: nine times out of ten we'll win it back, or they'll kick it out or we'll win it back on the edge of their box.
That's what I'd like to see from us, instead of retreating to the halfway line and defending from there. Although it looks like the midfielders haven't done a lot in the game, I can guarantee they've covered a lot of ground and it's very hard in that position. You're doing five and ten-yard sprints but you're not doing anything.
While Walters acknowledged that a point away to Denmark would be a good result in a traditional qualification group, he called on Ireland to do more in home games.
When you're in a qualifying group for the Euros come March, and you have a team like Denmark, you will always take a draw away from home, even if it's not pretty. It's not great fans to go out and watch and to watch on TV, but you then have to produce at home. We need to turn the performances at home into [a performance befitting] the home team. We've been playing like an away team at home.
We need to start creating chances and start scoring goals.
Walters lamented the fact that international football offers far less time that club football to work on these issues.
Walters was then asked if it was the manager's job to fix this, and the striker revealed that he has been part of Irish squads in which it was resolved by the players on the pitch.
Every manager is different. I've played in the Irish team when the players will sort it out. I'll say to Seamus 'I want it here, I want it there' and you'll have little relationships like that.
I'm the type of player that will sort it out. I'm not sure whether the modern-day player will, and I'm not saying that's right or wrong. A lot of young players are coached through academies and taught a different way of playing.
A constant refrain of O'Neill's in the last year has been Ireland's lack of a regular goalscorer like Robbie Keane, but Walters highlighted the fact that Ireland are not creating enough chances.
On the book of other performances, we've had real defensive performances and got clean sheets. When you play like that, it's how you turn that into creating chances and score goals. Goals are a problem. But I wouldn't blame that on strikers and say 'we're missing a striker, we're missing Robbie Keane'. We've got to create chances.
Walters nonetheless remained confident that Ireland will qualify for Euro 2020, in spite of the reality that they will be third seeds in the draw on December 2nd. When asked by presenter Scott Minto whether Martin O'Neill will be given the time to navigate that qualification group, Walters responded that "I think he will".
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