REACTION Three things we learnt as Stephen Kenny's Republic of Ireland draw another blank against England
1. Scorelines such as this one are going to continue to haunt Irish international football unless Ireland’s players are employed by top Premier League clubs – and then play at them.
The Boys in Green tried hard at Wembley. But too many of them play with Bristol City, Stoke City, Preston and Nottingham Forest.
Yes, Stephen Kenny was short four Premier League regulars in Seamus Coleman, Enda Stevens, James McCarthy and Callum Robinson – and then he lost a fifth in John Egan after a few minutes. But their absences just exposed those who replaced them to a level of football with which they were not comfortable
Ireland might have taken a more serious beating if the likes of Harry Kane had been playing instead of sitting in the stand rested. Imagine how Ireland could do with Kane playing for the country of his Galway relations – but then he wouldn’t have got a decent pass all night.
2. Other international managers have quickly copped that Ireland want to play possession football under Stephen Kenny – and are pressing us right up to our goal-line.
England took on Ireland from the moment goalkeeper Darren Randolph played the ball to any white-shirted Irish player. They were hungry to get the ball back and were eager to get at our full-backs and centre-backs.
None of the England goals actually came from this determined pressing, in the manner of Finland’s goal last month, but the hard work of England’s front players meant Irish lads had little or no time on the ball to look up a pick a penetrating pass. It was just a short, safe, out-ball to the nearest team-mate.
3. And so another Ireland international match passes without scoring a goal.
It hardly merits a comment now as Ireland are toothless, both in terms of creating a chance and then having someone there to take it. But our football fortunes will not improve until Stephen Kenny somehow manages to conjure up a creative player and a sharpshooter that no one can see on the horizon.
And we need some reward from Sunday’s match in Cardiff and then Bulgaria in Dublin next Wednesday. Ireland need points to stay a second seed in the World Cup draw on December 7 – and we don’t want to be relegated to Division Three in the Nations League either. That would mean our spring and summer fixtures in 2022 would be against seriously unattractive opposition.