That was really great of Ireland.
The boys in green played good football and stuck to their task until they got the tie.
They could measure up well against the top Belgian team, but they still have a lot of good players.
I’m happy to congratulate Stephen Kenny on pulling that kind of performance out of the team and squad.
I had my doubts as to what he intended to do with Ireland not so long ago.
But the older players have embraced his ideas and younger players are coming through – that’s the key.
Almost every roster announcement now seems to be about another new player getting blood.
Fair dues to Chiedozie Ogbene, he’s the type of young lad we old grey-haired central defenders used to hate against.
He keeps running, he keeps working and kicking him won’t do any good because these guys keep coming back for more.
I can’t believe he’s still in Rotherham. Surely a bigger club will come into question for him soon?
This boy can be a big player for us for the next decade.
Just like Jason Knight. Played out of position I thought he was consistently excellent in a very difficult role.
Jason was asked to help the strikers but also the midfielders and that was a working hour and a half.
But the Derby County player kept running and working, earning his applause when he was finally substituted off.
I’m sure the professional in Stephen will be disappointed with Belgium’s second goal.
It was the kind of goal that Ireland’s players don’t like to concede.
We’re always proud of our set pieces and giving an opponent a free header in the box just isn’t good enough.
It’s certainly something we need to work on with the DVDs over the next few days, Ireland should do better.
It was a rare indication of a really fine Irish display of flair, ball control and passing.
It was good to see and showed that the team is now growing and maturing. May the good times lie ahead.
I enjoyed the whole occasion and was delighted to be honored by being presented with an FAI Centenary Medal.
It shows what the club can achieve if it organizes itself and gets things moving.
It’s all going up from here now, we have Lithuania on Tuesday and then god knows what happens in June with our games against Ukraine.
Football must be the last thing on their suffering people’s minds right now.
But their pride will prevail and we will one day play the Nations League games when everyone is ready.
And when they do, hopefully the lads in green will play like they played against Belgium.
In the meantime, I didn’t think my comments last week about Manchester United waiting to take a top manager out of the World Cup would have such relevance so soon.
But here we are, we didn’t have to wait for the Winter World Cup and Roberto Mancini is certainly available now.
After last Thursday’s incredible defeat by North Macedonia in Palermo, Mancini won’t stay with Italy for another year before he can even start the Euro 2024 qualifying process.
He’s exactly what United need right now. A strong manager with a proven track record at his clubs and country.
Mancini would not make fun of underperforming Manchester United stars.
In fact, I know for a fact that once he arrived at a club, he went to top players and just said to the players’ faces: “Let your agent find you a new club, you’re out of here.”
Mancini didn’t turn into a bad manager after what was clearly an unusual result in Sicily last week.
Italy had full possession but Macedonia scored one of their two shots on goal in 95 minutes.
However, the game showed a weakness that we mentioned here last summer, even as Mancini led his team to Euro glory.
They don’t have a real centre-forward like Robert Lewandowski or Harry Kane who scores goals.
Or a Paolo Rossi or Roberto Baggio from their own illustrious football history.
Italy got away with it last summer. Not last week.
Of course, Mancini would have a big problem – a piece of luggage that could potentially cost him the job.
Would the Stretford End accept a figurehead manager who has guided Manchester City to Premier League and cup victories?
Moving through a divided football town hasn’t worked out for Rafa Benitez at Everton.
He should have put the Toffees top of the table to forgive his time at Anfield.
As Rafa took them close to bottom of the Premier League table, there was only one way it was all going to end.
I suspect United supporters might give the Italian a chance.
United supporters are desperate for the glory days to return and I don’t think they’ll be too bothered by the background of the man who’s taking them there.
And besides, United are in no position to be picky.
The fact they were unable to get a top manager when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer left shows where the club is at right now.
https://www.independent.ie/sport/soccer/international-soccer/new-ireland-star-chiedozie-ogbene-is-the-kind-of-player-i-hated-to-come-up-against-41491046.html Paul McGrath: New Ireland star Chiedozie Ogbene is the kind of player I hate to play against