Writer: Mike Field
Date:Sunday May 24 2009
Martin O'Neill has paid tribute to the players for their terrific efforts all season long.
Speaking on the official site after our 1-0 win over Newcastle (which for those of you who don't know means they are relegated) O'Neill was obviously disappointed that we missed out on 4th place, and then 5th place, but was delighted that we secured 6th place and is adamant he has seen improvements this season.
Well obviously, compared to last season we won two additional points during this campaign!
'I am disappointed we finished with more points but didn't manage to achieve fifth place. But I am delighted with the team - absolutely delighted.
'We have achieved 62 points and that's a great effort. Those points are hard to come by. It's been terrific. We haven't been out of the top six all season. That's a testament to the players.
'We made changes in personnel during the summer time but it's been shown that we didn't have the size of squad to cope with February, March and parts of April, which is a crucial time in the season. We will have a look at that again.
'But quality is a rare commodity. Having said that, we have some fantastic players and they were on show this afternoon. I couldn't be more pleased with them. Overall, I am delighted with the team.'
As for finishing the season with a win, O'Neill was rightly delighted that we weathered the early pressure from Newcastle and slowly took over the game, enough so in fact that we could afford to shift a winger to right back, substitute the midfielder playing at right back, to introduce his mate Heskey upfront for the final 15 minutes.
'They started very brightly and really took the game to us. They had a couple of chances and they didn't go in. There was obvious disappointment with that on the opposite bench but we got stronger the longer the game went on. I just felt we deserved to win the game in the end.'
Sarcasm aside, we certainly did deserve to win. As has been the story of our season, we could've quite rightly came away tonight with 4 or 5 goals but the final 10 minutes we're hellish.
Everytime Newcastle came forward you were thinking 'here we go again,' yet up the other end it was almost like chance after chance to kill the game off.
Ash, Barry, or Carew could've put this match beyond Newcastle but we failed to do so.
This is something that needs seriously addressing during the summer, we've lost and drawn too many games this season because of conceeding late goals when the game should've already been beyond the opposition.
High scoring games to begin with weren't a problem for us, if we genuinely wish to break into the Top 4 next year we need some quality during the transfer window and we need to remember how to win games 3 or 4 nil and only sneak games 1-0 when we are desperate. This season the desperate has been the norm and when that luck went so did our dreams of a Top 4 finish.
We cannot let that happen again.
Date:Sunday May 24 2009
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