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Kerr questions O'Neill's 'extraordinary' approach to team announcements

“Too often it looks to me like there hasn’t been any practice of the pattern of play that they’re going to play.”

Martin O'Neill with Declan Rice before the game Ireland manager Martin O'Neill with Declan Rice before last Friday's game against Turkey. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

MARTIN O’NEILL’S POLICY of delaying his Ireland team announcements until shortly before kick-off has been criticised by Brian Kerr, one of his predecessors as national team manager.

O’Neill is understood to favour an approach whereby his players only discover his starting line-up when they arrive in the changing rooms before each game.

But Kerr believes that such an approach could be counterproductive, as it deprives players of additional time to prepare for the role they’ve been handed.

Kerr, who spent two and a half years in charge of the Ireland senior squad between 2003 and ’05, was reacting to comments from Declan Rice on last night’s Soccer Republic programme on RTÉ.

After delivering a man-of-the-match display in his senior international debut in last Friday’s 1-0 defeat to Turkey in a friendly in Antalya, Rice explained in a piece with Tony O’Donoghue that he only learned of his inclusion in the team an hour before kick-off.

“Martin O’Neill had great success at several clubs, particularly at Leicester and Celtic, and he obviously has a way of doing things which is different. All managers do things a little bit differently,” said Kerr.

“But still, I find it extraordinary that at international level, where you don’t have the players so often — you’re not playing 50, 60 games a season — that there seems to be no clear instructions, or instructions about the formation, or even the personnel playing in what position until they get to the dressing room.”

Kerr added: “Too often it looks to me like there hasn’t been any practice of the pattern of play that they’re going to play. The ball went out to [Seamus] Coleman occasionally and it didn’t look there was any work done on what his next options would be — whether it was to try and play it into the front player, back into the midfield or back across to the centre-backs. It was hesitation and then it just broke down.”

Following the defeat to Turkey, Ireland won’t be in action again until they travel to Stade France on 28 May for a friendly against a French side who’ll be finalising their preparations for the World Cup.

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