The One that Matters

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar October 16, 2018 16:15


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The One that Matters

By Satish Sekar in Dublin © Satish Sekar (October 16th 2018)


Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill claimed that despite the absence of Gareth Bale (injury), Aaron Ramsey (paternity – his wife has just given birth to twins) and Ethan Ampadu (injury), as well as the 4-1 drubbing by Spain, Wales will go into tonight’s Nation’s League match as favourites.

But Ryan Giggs sees it as an opportunity too, despite an alarming statistic. Since his emergence, Wales has only won three times without Bale, and those were against minnows.

“Bale is a real world class player,” O’Neill said. “Ramsey is a top quality player himself again.

“I’m sure they will be blows for Wales and, maybe as a consequence, it should be okay for us in that sense, but I keep going back to it, we’ve got players who would be very normal starters for us that have been out for some considerable time.

“We’ve had to make do for quite some time now.”

Giggs was also philosophical about it – Wales will have to perform without their best players.

“It gives more opportunities to others,” Giggs said.

“It’ll be a test. It’s a difficult place to come. We watched the game on Saturday [Republic of Ireland against Denmark] and it’s tough.

“You’ve got to win your battles and play your football.

“I’m looking forward to see how a few of our young players react.”


But does the defeat, particularly the manner of it, to Spain have any effect?

“We had one eye on this game [against the Republic of Ireland],” Giggs said.

“The basics, we just didn’t do right. We gave away soft goals.

“We played really well against Ireland at home.

“I’ve said to the players; that’s the benchmark, that’s the standards we have to react.

In that game, we did the basics right and that gave us the platform to go on and do well.

Against Spain, we didn’t do the basics right. If you don’t do the basics right, you can’t show what you’re capable of.”

Giggs wants his team to play attractive football – Spain did that.

“We want to play football in the right way, but you have to earn the right to play.

“Teams aren’t just going to lie down and let you play. You have to win your battles and then you might be able to pass the ball around, take players on and excite the fans.

“But if you don’t do the basics right, you won’t be able to do that.”

Ben Davies agrees.

“They [Spain] really showed us how to play football, and there are a lot of things we can take from that,” the Tottenham Hotspur defender said.

“Maybe we just need to get back to being a solid team.

“We’re expecting Ireland to come out all guns blazing. They want to do well. We need to be ready for that.

“We played a back three against Spain and they made it incredibly difficult for us. They made the ball do the work.

“Ireland played with a back three in their last game and we’ll see if we can do that.”


Both managers expect a tough match and see their recent matches as having an influence, and respect each other.

“We played really well in the first game,” Giggs said.

“I’ve got total respect for Martin. He’s a brilliant manager and has proved that over the years. “We expect a test.”

Meanwhile, Giggs is new to management, but O’Neill doesn’t take Giggs’ inexperience for granted.

“It’s very early – a great start, certainly competitively against us,” O’Neill said.

“I’m sure he will do fine. He’s obviously a top quality player, a different thing managing now, but he’s got a little bit of experience dealing with big players at Old Trafford.

“I’m sure he will take it all in his stride.”

At Stake

If they win, Wales will go top, but if Giggs team loses, they will be bottom. So does the recent thrashing by Spain make any difference?

“No I don’t see that;” O’Neill said. “I see Wales, the confidence should be high from their result against us for a start.

“Secondly, the game you are talking about is essentially a friendly match and they were probably using some players in the game.

I don’t think their confidence would be affected.”

Meanwhile, Wales lost to Denmark and Denmark were held 0-0 by the Irish – a team Denmark’s Thomas Delaney branded ‘primitive.’ O’Neill brushes off the criticism of Ireland’s style of play.

“It’s not that long ago that Denmark were considered primitive side with a world class player,” O’Neill responded. “It’s sometimes quite easy to make those sort of remarks.

“Denmark, at the end of it all, who did do exceptionally well in the World Cup, they eventually didn’t cause us that many problems – still dangerous with the players they have, including Delaney, who is improving by the year, a top quality player with a top quality team.

“It’s not that long ago since Denmark were considered primitive and they can still play primitively when they want too.

“They are a strong physical side and if you were asking teams around Europe, they’d say Eriksen, World Class, Delaney top quality player, Sisto plays in the big league, but they can dish it out themselves when it’s necessary. They are as physical as any side in European football.”

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar October 16, 2018 16:15