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John Giles defends the RTÉ panel in the wake of criticism

The pundits were critical of Martin O’Neill despite his side ultimately achieving a positive result.

Giles criticised Martin O'Neill's team selection and tactics for the Germany game.
Giles criticised Martin O'Neill's team selection and tactics for the Germany game.
Image: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

RTÉ PUNDIT JOHN Giles has defended himself and his fellow analysts after they received criticism in the wake their comments following Tuesday’s match between Ireland and Germany.

Despite many commending Ireland’s performance in the 1-1 draw with the world champions, Giles, Liam Brady and Eamon Dunphy were all critical of manager Martin O’Neill’s team selection and tactics during their analysis on RTÉ.

And speaking on Newstalk’s Off the Ball show last night, Giles — who made 59 appearances for Ireland as a player — addressed recent criticism of the RTÉ panel.

“Our obligation is to the viewers,” he said. “We’ve no obligation to Martin O’Neill or the FAI. So we have to say it, as we see it. If we tried to be popular and said ‘great performance,’ we probably would have gotten more stick for being dishonest, and rightly so.

“If you’re going to give an honest opinion, you won’t always be popular. But it’s an honest opinion, and that’s all you can give. My honest opinion is that we didn’t play our best players in their best positions, and it’s a bit of a myth to suggest that we did that for 60 minutes, and when we went a goal down, we planned to change it.”

Meanwhile, Giles cited Scotland — who were beaten 2-1 by Germany last month — as a team whose style Ireland should have tried to emulate.

“Scotland went to Germany and played extremely well. They were beaten, but they were a bit unlucky.

“Scotland aren’t considered to have much better players than us. It didn’t look to me like they thought — ‘well, we’re playing away from home, so we’ve got to play in a certain way.’

“So if you’re looking at the long term, I think Poland and Scotland, at the moment, are ahead of us, despite the fact that we got the point and Scotland didn’t.”

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In addition, Giles maintained that the panel’s criticism of Stoke midfielder Glenn Whelan was justified.

“You have to look at what players contribute. It’s become fashionable to have a defensive midfield player — somebody who’s going to win the ball for you. But I don’t think Glenn Whelan actually wins the ball for you. He doesn’t use the ball very well.

“He’s a good-hearted lad and I don’t want to be too hard on him, but he doesn’t contribute in a defensive way, and he certainly doesn’t contribute in a constructive way.”

Listen to the full interview here>

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Paul Fennessy

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