Republic of Ireland fans have been reacting with consternation to the news that Martin O'Neill cancelled squad training today just three days out from the clash with Sweden. With no media activity today either, here are five possible reasons for the decision.
1. Learning from the past
It is a well-known fact that by the time Ireland lined out against Croatia four years ago that they were sick of the sight of each other. The cancellation may be to allow the players to break free from the Trianon Palace in Versailles and ease the pressure on them before one of the biggest games of their career.
2. O'Neill feels the players are overcooked
Perhaps O'Neill feels that training has been too intense in recent days and the players need a breather so they can be at their optimum level against the Swedes on Monday night. Reports from France suggested that yesterday's session was quite strenuous.
3. There has been a bust-up
It is the least likely reason but perhaps there was a row in the camp and sensing some tension, Martin felt it was wise to give the players a break from each other. Given the team spirit illustrated in qualifying and the positive vibes from the players about the management, this is a long shot.
4. Time to analyse the Swedes
Video analysis has become a huge part of the modern game and Martin could want to use today to dissect Monday's opponents. O'Neill, Keane and the rest of the backroom team have been pouring over footage of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and co. in recent days and want to relay some of their insights to the players ahead of Monday's clash.
5. Sticking to routine
It is not the first time Ireland have cancelled training sessions and media activity. It usually comes the day after a game and around three days before Ireland are to take to the pitch again. If this has helped to freshen players up in the past then it is logical to do it again.
In any case, the hard work is already done and the main aim is to get the players to the Stade de France fit and healthy and ready to get to the pitch of the game ASAP.
... Or maybe it's none of the above!
Independent News Service