RTÉ Soccer analyst Dietmar Hamann says he "expected more" from the Irish management tactically in the harrowing 5-1 defeat to Denmark in last night’s World Cup play-off.
While Shane Duffy’s early header had the home crowd dreaming of Russia 2018, a Christian Eriksen hat-trick powered the Danes to a comfortable win after Ireland’s gameplan fell apart during the second half.
Trailing 2-1 at the interval, Martin O’Neill decided to withdraw central midfielders David Meyler and Harry Arter and replace the pair with the more attack-minded Wes Hoolahan and Aiden McGeady.
Eriksen and Pione Sisto in particular profited from the greater space in midfield and while the Ireland manager insisted it was necessary risk, Hamann believes it was too early to go for broke and retrieve the game.
"What I didn’t understand, at half-time, when he took the two central midfielders off. For 20, 25 minutes, you don’t need to chase the game," he told RTÉ viewers.
"Don’t take a chance. The third goal finishes the game off. You have got to leave somebody there to look after Eriksen.
"He had acres of space in the second half. He could play at will and after the third goal the game was finished.
"I expected a bit more tactical nous from the manager and the players."
Fellow pundit Eamon Dunphy said it was a "humiliation" for Ireland and questioned the role of James McClean on the night.
The West Brom winger was Ireland’s leading scorer during the qualifying campaign, but was ineffective for large periods of the game, and Dunphy sympathised with the 28-year-old after he gave an emotional post-match interview.
"You’d have to ask where was James McClean playing? He’s a left winger, he does all his damage [there], he’s a great crosser of the ball. He didn’t play there.
"It’s very sad to see someone like James heartbroken. He’s a fantastic person.
"You can’t fault the players’ effort, but there was a lot wrong out there."