Belfast Telegraph

'Clueless' TV pundits talk drivel, says O'Neill

By Daniel McDonnell

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill has tackled the suggestion that he sacrifices creative players for key games, believing that the opinion stems from TV pundits who 'do not have a clue'.

Since qualification for Euro 2016 was secured, the former Northern Ireland captain has made it clear that he was less than impressed by some commentary on his team and he made reference to the RTE panel at their sports' award last weekend.

O'Neill did not make reference to any specific pundit, but his general sentiment was clear as he discussed criticism of his team selections and the perception that he always selects the pragmatic option for away fixtures.

Wes Hoolahan's injury-related absence from the starting side away to Poland provoked a furious response from Eamon Dunphy.

"If you're asking me if I refrain from playing skilful players when it's important, I've never heard so much drivel in my life," said O'Neill. "There is nothing I like more than creativity as creativity will win games for you. And at Aston Villa, that's what I spent my time doing - buying creative players mostly. There are lots of ingredients that go to make up a team

"If I was to listen to everybody picking my team, I wouldn't get out of bed in the morning. And if I was to listen to people who I don't have a phenomenal amount of time for, I would just pull the covers over my face.

"There are people who are in the game, who have had a say for years and years who really do not have a clue, genuinely do not have a clue and my experience, my judgement of players, I think is as good as any.

"I know my team have a fair idea about flair and they certainly have a better idea about flair than some pundits who don't even attend matches and are making a judgement from a studio.

"I really genuinely don't mind a pundit having a say if he is backing it up with some cogent argument or something he feels might make sense, but if he makes a judgment on something that is factually incorrect, then obviously you are going to have to question it or ignore it. Or both."

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