Macdara Ferris reports from FAI National Training Centre in Abbotstown
Last time out in the Aviva Stadium, the Republic of Ireland put in a decent performance against Georgia. The Boys in Green could only grab one goal but that was enough for the win. Mick McCarthy would like a decent performance again on Monday night but he is happy to take a victory by one goal even if Ireland are only facing Gibraltar who are the minnows of Group D.
“If it ends up being a scrappy 1-0 win off someone’s backside I’m not bothered!” said McCarthy on the eve of his fourth game of his second spell in charge of Ireland.
“I want to win the game. I don’t get this how we have to be expansive. We have tried that. We were expansive against Georgia and had lots of chances. We scored one and we won the game.
“We weren’t allowed to be expansive in Gibraltar. We scored one there and we won the game. I thought we played well in Denmark and one goal got us the draw. So long as we win tomorrow, I’m not bothered.”
The teams have played each other on three occasions with Ireland’s winning margin reducing each time from 7-0 at home in October 2014, to 4-0 in September 2015 in Faro before last March’s 1-0 win in Gibraltar.
The crowd coming to the Aviva Stadium would certainly like to see the Boys in Green grab a hatful of goals and maybe match Mick McCarthy’s best winning margin of 5-0 as an international manager (which is what he achieved on three separate occasions against Liechtenstein).
That, however, isn’t the type of game McCarthy expects.
“I’d like it to be a better performance than we had in Gibraltar but ultimately I’d still take another 1-0 win,” said McCarthy about a result that would keep his team top of the table going into the summer break.
“I’m sat here trying to stress the importance of winning. Would it be great if we played great and drew 0-0? I want to win the game.
“It would be lovely walking off if we got a good result and everyone is happy that we’ve scored a few goals. We are playing against a team who have come here desperate to stop us. We have to try and break them down. We will do everything in our powers to do that.
“What you don’t want is just possession in front of them, you need to get behind and through them. It isn’t easy to do of course.
“When you win games if you play well in them and you do get a good result, you do grow in stature and feel better about yourself, and the team. They feel more confident. I can see it from the coaches point of view.
“I’ve been there as a player that when you start winning games, it gets to be a habit and a nice habit and you don’t want to change that habit.”