Football is a results business but Kevin Doyle thinks that Ireland's results against Bulgaria and Finland in their upcoming Nations League matches are irrelevant when compared to the bigger picture.
A new era for Irish football begins in Bulgaria as Stephen Kenny takes charge of the senior international side for the first time. However, Doyle thinks that it's time that management, players, and supporters start to value the performances as much as the result.
With a European Championship playoff against Slovakia in October on the horizon and hopefully a play-off final the following month, there's very little time for Kenny to experiment with formations and players.
However, given his track record with Derry, Dundalk, and the Irish u-21s, there's genuine excitement among fans that we'll get to see attacking and entertaining football. Aside from this, the new crop of players that have been selected for the two matches has given Irish supporters reason to be cheerful.
However, we're not forgetting the older guard with the likes of a reinvigorated James McCarthy and Harry Arter back in the fold too.
It’s less than 12 months since Ireland last played Bulgaria in a friendly at the Aviva Stadium, Ireland winning 3-1 on the night, so while the task in Sofia will be tricky, it's not daunting.
Regardless of how the match finishes, former Ireland striker Kevin Doyle told Balls that the result is minor when compared to the bigger changes that he'd like to see.
"It's not a friendly but it's a nice little settler in too. It's not the end of the world if he doesn't get a win, there's not a lot of big pressure in these two games to get a result. I'm more interested in seeing how they set about how they play, how they play out from the back. We've had plenty of managers who go out and say 'we'll go out and get the result first and then worry about the style of play later.' It's time we moved on from that.
We all want results, but it's not the end of the world if he loses our first couple of games - just to see how they go about it. Can they build up from the back? Are they calm on the ball, calm under pressure, and that's the way Stephen's sides have usually played. Ok, it's not total football but he has played pretty good football over the years. Players look to pass, create, and score goals. That's what I want to see. Little things for me like is the 'keeper looking to pass the ball out when he has it, how's he under pressure, is Stephen still encouraging players to pass and be patient?
He's got good coaches around him and they're all on the same wavelength. As for the result, I'm not bothered. I know we're all talking about World Cup seedings, but I'm not really bothered about these two games. If they put in good performances and lose, to me, that's fine. Looking at it, you'll know whether or not the players are buying into it in the first two games. By looking at their faces, you'll have a fair idea if it's going to work or not.
We'll all find out if Ireland will adopt a completely different stylistic and tactical approach when the boys in green kick-off their Nations League campaign against Bulgaria in Sofia.
You can listen to the full interview with Kevin below. You can subscribe to the show here, or by searching The Buildup wherever you get your podcasts.
Kevin also talks about the pressure on Stephen Kenny in the biggest job of his life, the Matt Doherty-Seamus Coleman selection issue, and lots more. We also break down why the Nations League results are very important for Ireland's progress in the next few years, and the 2022 World Cup in particular.
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