Writer: Mike Field
Date:Saturday August 23 2008
Disgusted, disgraceful and amatuerish are not words he uses. Instead he takes the positives from the match, scoring two away from home, the fact it was a great match and says 'that was a massive disappointment but we'll bounce back.'
You have to ask who against? HF the Icelandic part timers, or Liverpool?
I'm one of O'Neill's greatest fans and although the scoreline probably doesn't do us justice - at the very least we should've come away with a point - it's hard not to realise against teams who battle, we always struggle.
Once Young is shut down, if Barry doesn't have a corker we struggle for ideas going forward. We can't break down teams who sit deep and kick hard.
Ok so we finally saw Routledge come on, and to be fair to the lad given how long he had he did provide us with some balance on the right and gave us an additional outlet as he tried to hit the byline as often as he could.
But sadly even his inclusion was somewhat buggered by the fact that he had Reo-Coker playing at right back which surely doesn't give anyone any confidence.
Stranger still on the Routledge for Shorey substitution, why didn't Barry go left back? Why in God's name did Luke Young (our first natural right back in months) get shifted to left back?
The shape and balance of an already under the cosh and struggling defence was completely destroyed - so is it any wonder we lost the game.
Lessons to be learnt from the game. Nigel Reo-Coker is NOT a right winger, NOR a right back. Luke Young is not a left back.
Please play people in their proper positions - at least we stand a chance then.
Speaking on the official site, O'Neill wasn't entirely happy with the defence, but he was impressed with the character we showed to come back twice from being behind.
'Overall we deserved something from the game. We didn't play well in the first-half at all and we didn't get momentum going and they scored from a penalty kick that was dubious at best.
'But having said that we got into our stride in the second-half and deserved the equaliser. We deserved the second equaliser as well.
'After that we shouldn't lose the game. Whatever you do, don't lose the match. We just had one more throw-in to defend; it was coming in once again. They got a wee bit of luck but overall it's disappointing to lose in that fashion.'
Maybe it would've been easier to defend if NRC and Young were in relatively sensible positions? Then again we went from looking like winning the match to pathetically losing the match all in one substitution.
Routledge being brought on was the right decision, taking Shorey off and shifting everyone else around to accomodate Reo-Coker wasn't. As MON goes on to say, we got into our stride in the second half. Why ruin it by buggering about with the defence?
'We got into our stride after the break and I thought the second-half belonged to us. I don't think many would have griped had we got something out of the match.
'On reflection on the whole game we should have taken something from it. That's not to take anything from Stoke. It was a great effort in front of their own crowd.
'It's really disappointing for all concerned. It's disappointing for the team and obviously for the supporters. But we'll come back again.'
The less said about Mark Halsey the better, but O'Neill puts it far more succinctly, if confusingly, than I ever could.
'Gabby's was more of a penalty. I wasn't sure that it was really and I can see why the referee did not give it.
'I thought it was a penalty from where I stood but at the second look I wasn't so sure. Having said that, their penalty was never a penalty at all.'
So Gabby's wasn't a penalty but it was more of a penalty than theirs. Easy.
Date:Saturday August 23 2008
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