IRELAND CAN PLAY well and still deserve to lose, Cobh Ramblers manager Shane Keegan has claimed after defeat by Scotland and ahead of tonight’s Nations League clash against Armenia.
“The performance was good, but when you play against teams that are better than you, you can be good and still deserve to lose. And that’s sort of what’s happening to us,” Keegan said Football family podcast that is available to members of The42.
He was responding to a question from Gavan Reilly of The42 members’ WhatsApp group, who asked: “Simply put, given the performance and results debate surrounding the senior team, why does there seem to be such a gap between them? »
“My argument here is this: I don’t think there’s a big gap between them,” Keegan said, referring to “recent games.”
Keegan added. “We didn’t beat Scotland at xG. We did not beat Ukraine in the previous game at xG. We thrashed Scotland 3-0 despite barely beating them by xG. We were really unlucky in the previous game against Ukraine. We beat them well on xG but lost 1-0. But overall, I don’t think we’ve been infinitely better against teams on xG and underachieved.
“We can play very well and still deserve to lose. . . which can often happen when you play against teams that are better than you.”
Keegan said that as Cobb’s manager he demands an 8/10 to 10/10 performance from his players, but against the best opposition that is not always enough to guarantee results.
“If we do 8/10 and Waterford do too, we’ll get beaten, that’s the reality. We need to be 9/10 and Waterford 7/10 to get a result. This is probably what Ireland need to happen against Scotland.
“I think we gave an 8/10 performance. I think Scotland put in an 8 to 8.5/10 performance and based on that balance it will mean that Scotland will more than likely win the game. Turn it around and 8/10 against Armenia should win the game for Ireland.”
Keegan said Ireland’s 3-5-2 formation against Scotland was actually a five at the back, with the full-backs falling out of defense for most of the game. Against Armenia, he said, the onus is on them to play much higher up the pitch.
“The formation we use can be two completely different formations. 3-5-2 was absolutely 5-3-2 against Scotland. The 3-5-2 formation is very important this time, to the extent that the full-backs have to play not too far away from the front two, whereas against Scotland they were almost in line with the back three.
“In a game where we have to have a lot of possession, having two right up top should be a big help for us. The two full-backs have to essentially become wingers and essentially leave the build-up of play to the three central midfielders and the three central midfielders and play very tall wing-backs stretching their full backs.’
The panel, which includes Keegan and 42 journalists Gavin Cooney and David Sneyd, also looked ahead to Ireland U21’s European Championship play-off second leg against Israel.
To access The42 Football Family with Gavin Cooney, David Sneyd and Shane Keegan, become a member of The42 at members.the42.ie.