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McGeady Says Old-School O’Neill Approach Met Resistance During Ireland Spell |

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Aiden McGeady’s breakthrough at Celtic in the mid-2000s came during the club’s last period of being consistently competitive on the continent during the heyday of Martin O’Neill’s time in charge.

McGeady made his debut for the Hoops against Hearts late in the 2003-04 season and cemented his place in the team the following campaign – O’Neill’s last in charge in Glasgow.


The pair would be reunited eight years later when O’Neill replaced Giovanni Trapattoni as Republic of Ireland manager at a time when McGeady was still earning regular starts for his country. One of McGeady’s most memorable moments in a green jersey came under O’Neill, when he scored his second goal of the game late on to snatch a 2-1 win in the opening game of EURO 2016 qualifying in Tbilisi.

Aiden McGeady Georgia

7 September 2014; Aiden McGeady, left, Republic of Ireland, celebrates after scoring his side’s second and winning goal witih team-mate Robbie Brady. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifer, Group D, Georgia v Republic of Ireland. Boris Paichadze National Arena, Tbilisi, Georgia. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

It’s safe to say, then, that O’Neill was a defining character of McGeady’s playing career – and the ex-Ireland international shared his memories of working under O’Neill on this week’s episode of the official Celtic FC podcast.

The Glasgow-born winger was asked to identify any differences he had spotted across his two spells working under O’Neill. McGeady’s answer was intriguing, as he said the changes he had spotted were more to do with the attitudes of players working under the manager than anything to do with O’Neill himself.

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Aiden McGeady says second stint under Martin O’Neill exemplified major change in modern football

Having previously noted his belief that modern players required more instruction than those from his generation, Aiden McGeady doubled down on those thoughts when explaining the difference between his two spells working with Martin O’Neill.

McGeady said that little had changed about O’Neill himself, but that he felt the players around him required far more help in preparation for games.

It was almost the exact same. But I started to see the change we were talking about, the changing culture from older players not really expecting to be told what to do…to players who were coming away a lot with Ireland…expecting to be talked through the game and talked through tactics.

Every single buildup, whether we’re going to play out from the back, what we’re going to do in every single phase of play. That was when I started to see the changing culture to the way that he managed players back then when he was with Celtic. That was the biggest thing for me.

You would see players come in going, ‘I don’t know how we’re playing. I don’t know if I have to drop and pick up the ball.’ It would be a bit of excuse making, at times.

Then again, I’m not having a go at these players saying they shouldn’t be asking questions about formations and tactics and style of play. That’s just the way they’ve been brought up with football. They would get that at their clubs and they’d come away with Ireland.

McGeady went on to sing the praises of his former coach, saying that his comments on how football had changed should not be read to reflect badly on Martin O’Neill:

Martin’s style never really changed – and why should it? He was a very, very successful manager. That was what he knew how to do best. Even with Ireland, he was very successful as well, got us to the last 16 at EURO 2016 and the World Cup play-offs where we lost to Denmark. A very successful manager who is very, very good at what he’s done and knows football inside out.

I’m not talking Martin down here with the way he managed his team, I just think that football has changed. He’s always had the same style and that was just the way it was back then.

It is a fascinating observation from Aiden McGeady, however, especially given the longevity of his Ireland career.

The winger played for his country for 13 years, lining out at two European Championships and scoring seven goals across 90 caps. Having played alongside several different generations of Irish stars, McGeady’s insight into the changing face of the Ireland dressing room is certainly intriguing.

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