Interim boss Noel King laughed off criticism from television motormouth Eamon Dunphy in the wake of Friday night’s 3-0 defeat in Germany, then tipped the next generation of Irish players to make a real impact on the international stage.
Set to remain in place for two November friendlies, one of them away to Poland in Poznan, King described TV reaction to his tactics and team selection in Cologne as “a comedy show.”
And back on Irish soil for Tuesday night’s game against Kazakhstan at the Aviva Stadium, King predicted good times ahead for whoever succeeds Giovanni Trapattoni despite the 3-0 defeat as the Germans booked their place in Brazil next summer.
“If whoever comes in wants to play in a European way, they will have seen that in Cologne. They will have seen that, that’s European football,” King said.
“Going forward on the counter was terrific, back to defending was terrific, working together and being compact as a unit was terrific.
“Did we have enough of the ball? Obviously not. Would you have it against Spain? Would you have it against Brazil? No.
“If we can be better at doing what we are doing, well that’s the forward way.
“But then a man comes in and he may decide to play a different way. That would be his prerogative.”
Employed as Ireland under-21 boss in his day job, King knows better than most the young talent that is coming through the ranks. And he sees reason for optimism.
“There are certainly players in the under-21s and lower who are going to be full international players, there’s no question about that, who are on the way, champing at the bit — maybe one or two that I might have brought into this group in a different circumstance,” King said.
“But definitely. We are Ireland, we have a football population of 500,000, they say, we also have a few people we can get in with mothers and fathers who have been born outside the country, which is no problem.
“We are not the biggest power, but we have to devise a way to try to live with those powers and win the matches, as is traditional.
“Kazakhstan and Ireland, we are not that dissimilar, so we have to make sure that when we play these teams, we have a plan that can get us success there as well.”
The former Shamrock Rovers star and Derry City manager did explain his tactics against the Germans in a game when Anthony Stokes and Darron Gibson returned to international football – and Stokes might have scored.
“Germany played 4-2-3-1 and were an example of how the game can be played in an attacking way. We had lots of attacks playing that way,” King said.
“I’m saying that, that might not happen. The game can dictate what happens. But there’s nothing wrong with playing that way, both attack-wise and defensive-wise. That’s the way the game is moving.”
And despite the criticism from Dunphy and company, King has enjoyed his time in charge of Ireland. Asked to describe it, he said, “Daunting, I suppose. I think I am enjoying it to a degree — I’ll let you know after Kazakhstan.
“It’s different. It’s a great experience. I wouldn’t trade the German night for anything, that was amazing.
“I haven’t read too many of the papers, but I don’t mind debate, I love debate. ‘Why did you not bring on a sub?’ ‘Why did you bring on a sub?’ ‘Why did you play that way?’ ‘Why did you not play that way?. I don’t take offense at that, I love it.
“It’s all about trying to find and develop the right way. When you win, you are so wise; when you lose, you are so stupid.”
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