Neil Lennon slams ‘abysmal’ Northern Eire collapse to finish World Cup qualifying hopes

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Neil Lennon fumed at Northern Eire’s “abysmal” collapse to throw away the lead and lose 2-1 to Bulgaria on Tuesday, ending their hopes of qualifying for the World Cup.

After Saturday’s 2-0 reverse in Switzerland, Ian Baraclough’s facet wanted an virtually miraculous run of outcomes to succeed in subsequent yr’s finals, however fell on the first hurdle as a shambolic second-half displaying allowed a resurgent Bulgaria to come back from behind and soar above them in qualifying Group C.

Lennon, who gained 40 caps for the Inexperienced and White Military, laid into his nation’s efficiency and instructed Sky Sports activities he was left offended with their capitulation, with Todor Nedelev’s double turning the match round after Conor Washington’s opener earlier than the break.

“That second half was abysmal,” he stated. “First half, Bulgaria appeared just like the worst staff within the group by far. We had three nice possibilities, after which scored.

“It may have been two or three at half-time, they got here out for the second half and have been completely passive. They invited Bulgaria onto them, and the sport administration within the second half was pathetic.

“I see this Bulgaria as a third-rate high quality facet in the intervening time. They’re nowhere close to the place they have been 10 or 15 years in the past, and positively nowhere close to the person gamers of that point – the Berbatovs, the Petrovs. They’ve let the sport get away from them.

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Highlights of the World Cup Qualifier between Bulgaria and Northern Eire.

“It is alright saying it is a younger staff, however they have to win video games. They don’t seem to be going to be taught by taking part in like that, or by shedding video games both.

“With quarter-hour to go, we had barely been of their half, we acquired a nook, took a brief one and instantly it is 50 yards again up the pitch to kill any momentum.

“They misplaced their manner utterly. There is not any management, the gaps between the again three, the midfield and entrance two was far and wide. We deserved to lose.”

Fellow former Northern Eire worldwide Chris Brunt pointed to Bulgaria’s vibrant begin to the second half, and the introduction on the interval of Ilian Iliev who would arrange their equalising aim, however stated Baraclough’s males ought to have had the maturity to take care of their hosts’ inevitable enchancment from a limp opening interval.

“It was like a special staff got here out within the second half,” he stated. “They made adjustments which had a constructive impact for them, however you take care of that.

“We spoke at half-time about how poor Bulgaria have been defensively, you flip them spherical and then you definitely be sure to defend your individual half, however we did not get out of our half till we have been 2-1 down.

“We have been second to each ball – it was disappointing to observe it. There have been plenty of positives from the primary half, you anticipate them no less than to come back out and maintain onto it, naked minimal. It was actually, actually passive.

“You’ll be able to sit off and sit off, however you need to go to work in some unspecified time in the future. It is alright saying Bulgaria can have the ball 40 yards from our aim, you may be comfy in that, however we by no means did.

“They appeared like they have been going to trigger us issues each time they acquired the ball. We have been good at doing that earlier than, once we’ve executed properly. Allow them to get it huge, cease the cross, even when it is available in, we’ll take care of it.”

Baraclough bemoans second-half spell

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Northern Eire boss Ian Baraclough admits his facet did not take their possibilities as their World Cup qualification hopes have been ended by the 2-1 defeat to Bulgaria.

Supervisor Baraclough recognized a 25-minute interval after half-time the place he felt his facet had did not wrestle again management of the sport in Sofia guilty for his or her defeat, and refused guilty the defeat on fatigue suffered from taking part in with 10 males in Switzerland on Saturday.

He instructed Sky Sports activities:You need to win your one-on-one duels, you need to win your little skirmishes. It began going their manner for a 20-minute spell and that is once they scored the targets once they acquired the higher hand on that.

“We have been untidy with our play, we did not get our first move off, we weren’t getting the ball into excessive and huge areas like we did first half, and it went a bit ragged. Whether or not that is a little bit of tiredness or fatigue, we did not handle the sport went very properly for that spell and it is value us.

“It was a sport we dominated first half, we created a very good few possibilities and did not take them, other than the aim. We got here in at half-time and talked about getting the depth up once more, getting the ball transferring, getting a foothold within the sport once more.

“They will have a spell the place they’re going to come at us, and we’ve got to take care of it, make sure that we’re successful second balls, all of the little skirmishes within the sport, and for a 20-minute spell within the second half, that stopped taking place.”

Ought to Baraclough keep on for Euro 2024?

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Baraclough’s contract is up along with his nation on the finish of this qualifying interval having gained solely 4 of his 18 video games in cost, though constructive talks have reportedly been held between the supervisor and the Irish FA about extending his deal.

Brunt and Lennon each agreed Northern Eire’s remaining two video games – at house to Lithuania and Italy subsequent month – would show pivotal in how his future pans out.

Brunt stated: “Michael O’Neill, in all probability essentially the most profitable supervisor we have had in current occasions, had a tough begin to his tenure too. It is simple to say he isn’t gained many video games, however we’re a small nation. He is coming off the again of a extremely profitable interval, the gamers are attending to the fallacious ends of their careers, and he has to convey some youthful lads in.

That is a constructive factor for us transferring ahead, so these subsequent two video games, they seem to be a useless rubber when it comes to the group, however for him and his teaching employees, they’re going to wish to get two constructive outcomes to point out the followers that they will do the job and it is his to maneuver ahead. It is a result-based enterprise, and if you happen to do not win video games, it is tough.”

Two poor outcomes at Windsor Park subsequent month may depart Northern Eire in a decrease pot within the draw for Euro 2024 qualifying, and Lennon added this ought to be the primary precedence for Baraclough irrespective of who’s chosen to steer the nation in the direction of that competitors.

He stated: “Italy coming to Belfast takes care of itself from a psychological standpoint, the gamers will elevate their sport. Lithuania are a poor staff, at house, you desire a win going into that Italy sport. So that they’re two good video games in numerous methods.”


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