Delighted for Martin O’Neill on taking Ireland into the last 16 of the Euros. Since his salad days ended at Celtic, Martin’s had more downs than ups as a manager. I felt the game had moved on from him, even during his five years at Celtic, the game tactically moved away from him, but he’s one of a number of managers of small nations who have overachieved.
I’m not buying Roy Keane’s tears, though. Reaching the last 16 of the Euros is a great achievement, but he disparaged Mick McCarthy’s achievement with Ireland in going out of the 2002 World Cup in the last 16 to Spain on penalties. Maybe it’s time for some humility from Roy.
If anything, Michael O’Neill’s achievements with the north has been even greater. Michael was mentioned as a possible Celtic manager before Brendan’s appointment, but the point was made to me, whatever he achieved in qualifying, he could be embarrassed in all three Euros games. Now he needs to beat Wales for a place in the quarter finals.
The group stages have been a delight. Some big tactical lessons for underdogs, and for teams who face 10 men behind the ball every week. If you don’t make defensive mistakes you can win any game, possession and territorial advantage is a mirage of influence.