Belfast Telegraph

ITV says sorry to viewers after dreadful Dublin display between England and Republic of Ireland

By Sam Wallace

ITV apologised to viewers for broadcasting England's turgid 0-0 draw with the Republic of Ireland in a series of tweets mocking the low quality of the game.

Roy Hodgson was asked for his view on ITV's withering verdict on the match, which ITV pundit and Belfast Telegraph columnist Paul Scholes described as "a waste of an afternoon". The England manager refused to comment but accepted that his team had been well below par.

ITV has a five-year, £100m deal with the Football Association until 2018 to show all home and away friendlies featuring the national team. The broadcaster also has contracts with Uefa to show the team's World Cup and European Championship qualifiers. During the friendly in Dublin, the official Twitter feed @ITVFootball repeatedly poked fun at the standard of the action.

It listed "five things we learned" from the game, leaving each of the five points blank. The broadcaster greeted the start of the second half with the comment: "Sadly, the referee hasn't lost his whistle, so we're set to go again". At full-time it simply commented: "We're sorry".

Hodgson said: "I think it was a game both teams needed after the season ending a couple of weeks ago. The positives for me are harder to find than they would have been for Martin [O'Neill, the Republic of Ireland manager]. Two obvious positives were the spirit in which the game was played - competitive, both teams trying to win - and the atmosphere in the stadium and the behaviour of the fans was a remarkable positive.

"We set ourselves high standards and got nowhere near them in the first half, marginally better in the second half. We've had a good run, a year almost unbeaten; we came here believing if we played our best football we could win the game, but we never got close to that. We didn't lose, but we have to accept there were a lot of things we could have done better."

Scholes commented on ITV that Phil Jones was "not clever enough" to play at centre-half. "I just think at centre-back, when he is playing against clever forwards, he tends to get dragged out of position quite easily," he said.

Scholes added that Raheem Sterling had lacked confidence. "You have to feel for Sterling a bit. This is a lad who six months ago could beat any defender in the world. He has great skill, great pace and he just looks like his confidence is shot to pieces."

Hodgson accepted that his team struggled to generate intensity. "There were some good moments in the first half, and the start of the second when Jack Wilshere got the ball and we started moving it quicker," he said. "But we didn't make anywhere near enough use of the moments when we got into the final third."

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