Belfast Telegraph

Familiar feeling of frustration for Northern Ireland fans

By Ian Cahoon

For Northern Ireland fans it was the same old story to reflect on as they made their way from Windsor Park on Tuesday night.

An evening which had much promise, and a match which threatened to live up to it for large spells, ended with a familiar sense of deflation after the 2-0 defeat to Israel.

While the Green and White Army were quick to let previous boss Nigel Worthington know that his time was up there isn't the same lack of patience with current manager Michael O'Neill.

However, frustration continues to grow. Not least at having to pay premium prices in a creaking stadium for a team which has now not won in 13 international outings.

Tommy Wilson summed up the feelings of the fans: "It's just not good enough.

"I don't really blame Michael O'Neill, you can see the players trying to play football, but he probably doesn't have the tools for the job.

"We looked comfortable until someone switched off for the first goal and from there on we just looked like a beaten team."

Ricky Doherty, from Portadown, said: "We come away talking about a decent performance but that doesn't get you very far, does it?

"I know we're missing a good few players, but that looked like a really average Israel team and they beat us comfortably in the end.

"The players should be taking more responsibility for this – they're putting the manager under pressure with results like this.

"There's only so long you can go on talking about playing decent but not winning – the statistics are just terrible."

Linfield fan Brian Preston believes the players' lack of confidence is evident with each passing game.

He said: "When you haven't won for well over a year you're going to get jittery when you're drawing late on like we are.

"You would hope the experienced players we have like Aaron Hughes would have a steady influence but they didn't seem to.

"We have a pretty solid back five and most of them have been about the block but a lack of concentration has killed us."

Andy Watson, from Belfast, added: "I honestly think if we had taken one of those chances in the first half we would have gone on to win the game.

"It's all ifs and buts at this stage though, bottom line is we've lost the game and everybody is a bit fed up.

"When you look at the games to come against Russia and Portugal it's hard to see when we're ever going to win a match!"

Michael Fulton though had questions for a boss who is still looking for his first win in 14 months in charge.

"We had a lot of momentum before and after half-time so why didn't we make a more positive change early on?

"Paddy McCourt yet again showed the most threat in the last third when he came on, but got 15 minutes.

"It's not enough. You have Billy McKay on the bench unused – again. What's the point in bringing these players in if you're not going to use them?

"Managers get their reward for being brave in situations like that and I don't think he is brave enough."

Belfast Telegraph


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