- 05 Sep 17
Ireland’s World Cup hopes hinge on tonight’s do-or-die encounter with Serbia in Dublin. But as Niall Stokes writes, the paucity of tactical ideas on Saturday against Georgia – a recurring theme of O’Neill’s tenure – suggests the omens aren’t good. And if the result doesn’t go our way, it might just signal the end of his time in charge…
Is there any hope for us at all? Is there even a possibility that we will qualify for the World Cup in 2018? Do we deserve to? On the evidence of Ireland’s utterly dire performance against Georgia on Saturday, the answer on all three counts would have to be: no.
Thankfully, that isn’t the whole story. But you don’t have to be a glass half empty merchant to feel that we are essentially rudderless as a team, and that if we do scrape through, it will be despite rather than because of the quality of the management.
Tonight, we line out against an excellent Serbian team in Dublin. In terms of class, they are way ahead of Georgia: just as technical, but far more experienced and infinitely better at squeezing out results. So badly have we allowed the train to go off the rails, that even if we draw against them, the likelihood is that Wales will snuggle up alongside us in equal second place by monstering Moldova.