Saturday 22 October 2016

We try to play football the right way: Coleman

Seamus Coleman in action against Serbia
Seamus Coleman in action against Serbia

Seamus Coleman believes that a new-found artistic expression in the Ireland side could push the current crop of players further in World Cup qualification.

But only if the side learn how to hold on to a lead and learn the lessons of recent slips.

While Coleman, compared to Denis Irwin by Roy Keane last week, is now firmly established as first-choice right back, potentially a full decade ahead in that slot for the Donegal man, Martin O'Neill also appears to have decided that Stephen Ward is his best option at left back, allowing Robbie Brady to cut loose in a more advanced role.

Ward was solid again in Belgrade on Monday night, though it's a mystery how the Burnley player picked up a yellow card for a tackle on Dusan Tadic, while Branislav Ivanovic got away with just a verbal warning for a foul on Ward, which was as bad if not worse.

Brady's role in midfield gives the Irish attack some added pep and Coleman says he's seen a more fluid approach to recent games, the last two matches in France 2016, both must-win games, and the opening game of the qualifiers in Serbia.

"I think in France we kind of changed our game in the last couple of games against Italy and France, we tried to play football and do it the right way," says Coleman.

"We tried to do it on Monday night but it was very difficult on that pitch. We had to play channel balls for Shane and Jon, it was a tough game for them.

"It's a positive result away to Serbia, we'll take that and it was great to see Murph (Daryl Murphy) and Jeff (Hendrick) score.

"I think other teams could struggle in Belgrade, you never know in football but they are very difficult team to play against. It can be a hostile atmosphere, so we can be happy we have taken a point out of it."


But Coleman admits that the withdrawn nature of this Irish side, once they had taken the lead, is a concern. Ireland went in front against France in Lyon, but did little attack-wise after that and, again in Belgrade on Monday, surrendered the initiative to Serbia and had to claw back from 2-1 down, having led from the third minute through to the 61st.

"As players, we need to address the fact that when score we sit back. It kind of happened in France and we've done it a little bit on Monday," added Coleman.

"We go behind and we bring the game back to them and we look good again. The manager is saying the same thing to us, that we're sitting back too much and it's something as players we need to address and get right on the pitch, added Coleman, insisting that Martin O'Neill's orders are not to fall back.

"The manager wasn't saying it, he was saying the opposite. As players, I know why, we need to address it, but it just happens, we sit back a little bit too much.

"We conceded the goal and it gave us a kick up the backside and we attacked the game again. If we just get that right, then we've got a great chance."

The placing of the armband on Coleman on Monday indicates that he's succeeded Robbie Keane as long-term captain and Coleman, honoured by the selection, does not plan to change too much. "I've been given the role for a reason, I'm not going to change," he says.

"I'm very lucky, I've got John O'Shea, Glenn Whelan, Jonny Walters, good experienced lads to look after me. So I'm not going to change," he says.

"I remember Roy and Robbie [as captain], they've different ways. I've spoken to Robbie, he's at the end of the phone if ever I need advice, I suppose there is a lot to it.

"It's not just on the pitch, it's off the pitch, it's something I'll enjoy and look forward to."

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