Noel King’s brief reign more than a passing phase
Interim boss delighted team has taken first steps towards modern passing game
The Ireland team has taken its first small steps towards playing a new, more modern brand of “European football,” according to Noel King, who was in high spirits yesterday after finishing his two game stand-in stint as senior international manager.
“I think what the players have done (during the past 10 days) is an incredible achievement,” he said. “We’ve changed the system, put an emphasis more on the passing game, and you have to accept flaws if you want to change something, you just look to make sure that the skill set gets better over time.
“But really, to turn it around and put in a decent performance against Germany and a decent performance against Kazakhstan, which it was (is hugely impressive). Were there errors and flaws? Absolutely. But the players know that and they didn’t do it on purpose, just as I didn’t make my mistakes on purpose. That’s just the nature of the game; it happened.
“The reality is you can’t just click in 10 days and become a team like Germany, who are at it years and have invested fortunes in it,” he said.
“If we’re going to play a passing game then we have to accept that we might give the ball away sometimes but if we do that and the crowd turn on the team then that would be a big negative, so there has to be a bit of education about the system.
“Jack Charlton had a very clear, set way he wanted to play; people argued against it, people argued for it, but they understood it. Giovanni had his way of playing too and while people didn’t like it sometimes, they understood it too.
“But people say Germany had 70 or 75 per cent of the ball and don’t realise that in a tactical game, we didn’t compete for the ball. They made seven, eight, nine passes that we allowed them to make and our hope was they would get sloppy, lose concentration and we would win it back and counter, which is what we did.
“That part of the game needs to be discussed and if people want to argue about how much value is in the approach then I have no issue with that, but I thought it was very good.
“Anyway, the point is: let’s talk about football, let’s talk about the quality of players, let’s talk about systems . . . proper stuff.”
King admitted he was relieved his team came out on top against Kazakhstan, with victory likely to ensure Ireland are second seeds for the qualifying stages of the next European Championship. The ranking is set to decline rapidly after that unless results improve as the play-off and finals tournament participation of earlier Trapattoni campaigns are discarded from the calculations.