MARTIN O’Neill insists he’s still in a positive New York State of Mind.
The Ireland boss is optimistic about the country’s Euro 2016 chances despite a disappointing opening half to 2014.
Sitting across the river from the inspiring World Trade Centre, the Ireland boss refused to be pessimistic following the 5-1 hammering to Portugal on Tuesday night and ordered traveling media to cheer up!
That defeat marked a sixth game without victory under O’Neill, following recent draws with World Cup-bound Costa Rica and Italy, and defeat to Turkey.
But the Derry man repeated that he and his players would learn more from playing top sides, and losing, than racking up goals and victories over smaller nations.
With his focus firmly on the Euro 2016 opener away to Georgia in September, O’Neill was adamant that his hopes have not faded over the past few weeks and he’s not despairing over the quality of player available to him.
“In an ideal world wouldn’t it be great if we were choosing 15 or 16 players from the Premier League, but it’s not there,” he said.
“But I knew that when I took the job on, I didn’t walk in and suddenly go ‘Jeeesus, is that who we’ve got!’ honestly it’s not a problem to me, it’s not.
“We’ll get ourselves together for the games, and you hope that as many of your really good players are fit for that day, that’s the one thing I can hope for.
“We will go into matches with a couple of our major players not available, one way or another, so it’ll happen. But listen, stay positive.
“Our confidence has not been shattered by that, just as much as you can’t say we were going to change the world by doing ok against Italy.”
In the Giovanni Trapattoni era, friendlies were used to build and maintain momentum, but O’Neill takes a different approach, insisting they should be learning tools for players and staff.
“To me this is a prelude to the whole affair,” he said, “When I stepped into the job in the first place, I wasn’t aware as an international manager of the ins and outs of friendlies games, but I’d rather do this.
“I still believe in trying to play against really decent opposition, not having the ball for spells in the game, trying to learn from that. For the players to go home look at the DVDs of the games they’ve been involved in, try and learn from that themselves, at club level, and obviously take it into the international stage.
“We went into the game against a team that had two players who won the Champions League a few weeks ago and we’ve an all-Championship back five.
“I’m not despairing. I used that word a while back when they asked me about young players coming through, but I’m absolutely not. I take it as a matter of course that this is the case.”
O’Neill has previously admitted his intention to tap into the ‘granny rule’ to source new players for his squad, and expects to begin recruiting in the next few weeks.
“There’s a number of players, and it’s something I’d really like to chase up during the summer time,” he said.
“I’m told sometimes these things take a bit of time, others can go through relatively quickly, at the end of it all, but there’s one or two who have genuine interest, whose agents have reiterated their desire to chase it up, and I intend to do that the minute I get home.”