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O’Shea ‘more than ready’ to manage Ireland

Ireland’s narrow defeat to Switzerland has done nothing to dampen the desire of John O’Shea to manage the national team on a full-time basis.

The Waterford native insisted after the game that he is “more than ready” to manage the side as his role of interim head coach comes to an end.

O’Shea was handed the role for the March double-header against Belgium and Switzerland, while the FAI were waiting to announce a permanent replacement in April.

But in the meantime, O’Shea admits that he has got a taste for the role and has thrown his heart and soul into the job over the past four weeks, building strong relationships with the squad, while proving insightful and intelligent when speaking about his overview of what is required to manage the national team.

Since taking over at the end of February, there has been growing support for the new man to be handed the reins full-time, and that was reinforced during and after the team’s performance against Belgium on Saturday.

Taking on two teams that have qualified for this summer’s Euros, as well as both sitting inside the top 20 ranked sides in the world – Ireland are 62nd – it has been quite the baptism of fire for the rookie manager, however, he has come through the experience relatively unscathed.

A result tonight against the Swiss would have really turned the heat up on the FAI to offer O’Shea the job, however, the team were undone by a first-half Xherdan Shaqiri free-kick, and despite having 70-odd minutes to turn it around, the visitors held on for the win.

“My instinct would be that I’m more than ready and capable to be a manager,” said O’Shea, speaking at the post-match press conference. “I think that’s something that we will discuss later on.

“But for me the full focus was on the two games, enjoy the moment in terms of learning from it and really understand it, learn about myself in terms of how I cope with the situation with the games, and learn do I want to do it more.

“And look, the emphatic answer from me would be yes. But where that is, let’s wait and see.

“It’s only giving me a taste for more,” he added, when asked was his hat still in the ring for the position. “Whether that’s with Ireland or club football, or whatever the case may be.

“But this is an answer I was giving five or six years ago when I was planning on becoming a manager, having that process of taking assistant manager roles and then to take a managerial role.

“It’s something I’ve obviously loved every minute of and I’ve been engrossed in it fully. It’s just annoying we didn’t get a win in either of the two games.”

O’Shea admitted that his side were second best in the opening 30 minutes in tonight’s encounter with Switzerland, which ultimately led to a 1-0 defeat at the Aviva Stadium.

And while he was happy with how his side reacted to conceding, he was disappointed and a touch frustrated that the changes in the second-half did not lead to an equalising goal.

“In that first half-an-hour you would say Switzerland were much better in terms of their control of the game,” said O’Shea.

“We were kind of a little bit caught where we didn’t want to be, in terms of half spaces and the organisation; then towards the end of the first-half we were aggressive.

“Thankfully what we spoke about at half-time, and what we saw in the second-half was really pleasing to see, because it was that attitude, commitment and quality to cause Switzerland problems.

“The changes we made in the second-half, I was happy with in terms of their intensity and their attitude towards it.

“It was amazing defending as well from Seamus, Nathan and Dara, giving us a chance to go and create again.

“I said to the players beforehand, and against Belgium too, that’s the level you want to be competing against if you want to qualify for major tournaments.

“Belgium and Switzerland qualify for major tournaments year after year after year, so you have to be clinical, and we weren’t clinical enough in the two games, and that’s something we have to really nail down in terms of taking chances.

“Even from some of the set-pieces we got, we’re thinking we should be working the goalkeeper here. We were getting into positions, attacking the ball really well, good deliveries, and it’s just obviously that final thing of working the goalkeeper. I’m a little frustrated at that.

“But as I said right from the off, and to the players right at the end, that second-half was really the response I wanted to see in terms of getting after Switzerland, being really aggressive and showing that we can match these teams.”

The only goal of the game came from the wand of Shaqiri, who curled an exquisite effort beyond Ireland goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu.

It all came from a soft free-kick, which led to irate protestations from the Ireland players, and while Dara O’Shea did not make contact, he went to ground and did not win the ball.

“It was frustrating because we watched it back, Dara and Nathan, we saw how angry they were at half-time,” said O’Shea.

“The referee decided… Dara has obviously stopped, and the lad has gone over. You could argue Dara should stay on his feet, but he pulls his leg away to obviously not make contact. It’s a frustrating one.

“But still, we can defend the free-kick better. It was a well-worked set-piece from them, but we’d be hopeful of stopping that.”


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