It was unusual to see Ireland captain Seamus Coleman court some controversy in the aftermath of Keith Andrew's comments about Ireland following their 1-0 defeat to Wales last month.
Andrews was providing analysis of the match on Sky Sports and called Martin O'Neill 'clueless' and calling 2018 one of the worst years in recent memory for Irish football, and suggesting that a change at the helm was needed.
Coleman didn't take the criticism of O'Neill lying down, addressing his former team mate's comments, before having a little dig at Andrew's own playing career:
It always seems to be put on the manager, that’s something that really bugs me at club level. I’ve seen three or four managers go. It always seems to be them that gets the heat and not the players. We need to stand up and be counted. Some of our performances have not been good enough.
We’re going through a tough time. Keith has been part of teams himself that could have been questioned at times. It’s very easy from a pundit’s position. Keith has got a job to do, Keith has really taken to punditry. He might have been trying to make a name for himself by being a little bit harsh the other night. That’s his job, that’s his role.
When he was a player it was his job to get on the ball and make things happen and at times he didn’t do that.
In a press conference today, Coleman has clarified his comments further stating that it was never his intention to criticise Andrew's playing career, arguing that he was only 'sticking up for his corner':
I just wanted to stick up for my corner, and it seemed then that I was having a go at Keith as a player. What I said was that at times Keith himself didn’t get on the ball and it was never having a go at him as a player.
But I think as well as that, having played with Keith, it’s always harder to hear criticism from someone who you’ve played with.
I’m saying he had instructions from a manager and we didn’t see that out. Keith has played 30-40 times for Ireland and I would never have a go at someone’s ability and a football player especially, someone who’s done as well as he did in his career to play for his country for so long and to be such an important part of this team.
As I said at the time, his job’s a pundit now and I think he’s doing really well in that regard. It’s just on that, after the game, we got beat — I’m captain of the lads, I’m not there to help them, and I’m watching that. I’m going to stick up for my corner as well. We’re a tight-knit group and we’ll always stick together as a team.
Ireland take on Northern Ireland this Thursday in the Aviva Stadium in a friendly where both Coleman and O'Neill will be looking to put recent bad performances behind them, and deprive Andrews the opportunity to criticise the team further.