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'Sometimes it's hard because luck is against you' - Danish boss sympathises with O'Neill

Åge Hareide’s side host Ireland tomorrow night in Aarhus.
Nov 18th 2018, 4:31 PM 4,251 3

Aage Hareide Denmark manager Åge Hareide speaking this afternoon at his pre-match press conference. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Paul Dollery reports from Aarhus, Denmark

DENMARK MANAGER ÅGE Hareide has expressed sympathy with Ireland boss Martin O’Neill amid the dismal spell his former Norwich City team-mate is experiencing.

Ireland have been in sharp decline since last November’s 5-1 defeat to the Danes ended O’Neill’s hopes of guiding the nation to the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

The only victory for the Boys in Green in eight attempts this year was a friendly against USA in June. Ireland have also failed to score in their last three games, and are guaranteed to finish at the bottom of Group B4 in the Uefa Nations League regardless of the outcome of tomorrow night’s clash with Denmark in Aarhus.

In contrast, it’s two years since Denmark have lost a competitive fixture over 90 minutes. Hareide’s side reached the knockout stages of the World Cup during the summer, before sealing top spot in this Nations League group thanks to Friday’s 2-1 win in Wales.

As a result of Ireland’s struggles, O’Neill’s position as manager has come under intense scrutiny. Having endured a similarly difficult spell in a previous job, Åge Hareide knows what his counterpart is going through. Hareide resigned as Norway manager in December 2008 following a run of eight games which failed to produce a win.

“In my last year with Norway we had four draws and four defeats. It’s so tight,” Hareide said during this afternoon’s pre-match press conference at Ceres Park in Aarhus, the venue for tomorrow evening’s game (7.45pm Irish time).

“Sometimes you get into a series of bad results and it’s hard to get out. I saw that [Shane] Duffy said the players have to take the responsibility. When you are a coach, you desperately want to change it to get it the right way. 

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Denmark v Republic of Ireland - FIFA World Cup - Qualifying Play-off - First Leg - Parken Stadium Martin O'Neill with Åge Hareide after the first leg of the World Cup play-off in November 2017. Source: Tim Goode

“If you have a bad run, you have to think of the days when you had a good run and you have to try to do the things you did when things went the right way. If Wales scored first [against Denmark on Friday], they could have won the group. It’s so tight. They had chances to do it and we know that.

“Every time you get a result, you have to look at how easy it is to turn it all around. It could be the other way. Sometimes football is hard on managers and sometimes it’s hard because luck is against you. I know he [Martin O'Neill] is working very hard to try to change the luck. That’s why we have to be on our toes tomorrow.”

Owing to suspensions to goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel and midfielder Thomas Delaney, Hareide will need to make at least two changes to his team to face Ireland. With nothing at stake, the Danis boss is likely to make further adjustments, although he confirmed that talisman Christian Eriksen is in line to start following his recent return from injury.

“You have to use every international game you can to get better and look at our squad. We have a chance of changing players and we will make a few changes,” said Hareide, who will again be without captain Simon Kjaer due to injury.

“It’s also very good for the team because you need to know who’s capable of playing international matches and doing a job if we get suspensions or injuries in the campaign for the European Championship.”

Tomorrow’s game will be the fourth meeting of these teams in 12 months. In addition to Denmark’s trouncing of Ireland in Dublin, the sides played out a couple of goalless draws. 

Hareide said of Ireland: “They’re hard to break down and they’re very, very organised. Their style is difficult to play against. That’s what I expect tomorrow.”

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