herald

Friday 30 September 2016

'Rule changes are unfair to goalkeepers and defence'

Ireland goalkeepers Darren Randolph and Gary Rogers: David Maher/Sportsfile
Ireland goalkeepers Darren Randolph and Gary Rogers: David Maher/Sportsfile

Martin O'Neill has questioned the fairness of introducing a raft of new rules for Euro 2016 and is still confused about some of them despite a briefing from former referee Hugh Dallas.

"He spoke very well indeed and simplified the things he thought were of note to us at this minute," said O'Neill.

"There are loads and loads of changes but he covered the essential ones. This offside which has become a real, real bone of contention."

O'Neill highlighted examples of the confusion which now surrounds whether an offside player is interfering with play or not and believes that to introduce new rules at this late stage is wrong.

"Very much so, very much so. An incident in the game in Italy caused ructions I think. The player was in an offside position, the ball was played to him, he looked as if he was going towards it but never got the touch.

"Because he hadn't got the touch, although offside, he's technically playing other people on, he's gone right up towards the ball and one of his team mates came from an onside position and swept the ball into the net. The linesman gave the goal. You explain that to me.

"We will try and practice some of it, I think that would be pretty important going out there. Overall, the one or two that you have to get used to a little bit but mostly we just have to deal with it accordingly."

O'Neill thinks that the changes were particularly unsettling for defenders and goalkeepers.

"I think so. I think you don't know now when to come out for offside. In the old days when the Arsenal team used to come out all hands up, the boy is offside.

"The rule came in some time ago quite rightly to prevent the players coming out and leaving a fella tying his laces, not interfering with play and miles away from the area.

"Now you have a situation in the penalty area where players can duck out of the way. They have to be interfering with play. If you're in the penalty area, you have to be interfering."

With enough time and access to players in a club environment, O'Neill believes that the rule changes and the confusion around offside can and will be used by managers.

"You can do but you need to practice it and be looking at. At club level I think you could now use these things to your advantage.

"It's something, I'm quite sure, that clubs look at and think they can spend a pre-season doing this and work it to your advantage. Whether we have the time to do it, I'm not sure.

"But we'll certainly look at it and try implement it as much as we can."

O'Neill batted away a question on his contract situation which can now be parked until July.

"John (Delaney) and I will have a little discussion again. We are fine with it, really fine, John is more fine than me," he laughed.

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