Nations League: Republic of Ireland’s Josh Cullen on Stephen Kenny philosophy

Josh Cullen and Stephen Kenny
Josh Cullen and Stephen Kenny enjoyed a win over Scotland in June

Josh Cullen says he and his Republic of Ireland team-mates will continue to believe in manager Stephen Kenny’s possession-based philosophy.

Kenny spoke earlier in the week about the importance of sticking to their style of play and of players not letting mistakes impact them.

Before Saturday’s penultimate Nations League game in Scotland, the Burnley midfielder backed his boss’ methods.

“You have to believe in the philosophy and style the manager wants,” he said.

“It would be a waste of time for everyone if we came here and worked on stuff every day and then as soon as one mistake happened we shied away from it, and went to a different style.

“You have to be brave when you are playing possession-based football and playing out from the back. Yes, mistakes will happen, but we just have to react as a team, and the more we do it hopefully less mistakes will happen.”

A 3-0 victory over the Scots in Dublin was the high point of an opening Nations League quadruple-header for the Republic in June, and possibly the best result of Kenny’s two-year reign.

It came after a 1-0 defeat away by Armenia and a loss by the same scoreline at home to Ukraine, and was followed by a 1-1 draw against Ukraine in Poland.

Erling Haaland
The Republic will play Erling Haaland’s Norway in November

Cullen, who moved from Anderlecht to Championship side Burnley in the summer, believes there is confidence to be taken from the win over Scotland but that there is a need to find a balance in how they approach Saturday’s encounter.

“We have looked at areas we can improve from the game in the summer, we are not just getting carried away thinking ‘we won 3-0 and everything is going to be fine’,” the 26-year-old added.

“There are areas of that game where we can improve and we have sat down and analysed those as a team, then worked on those things this week.

“I am sure the same goes for Scotland, they will review their game against Ukraine and, although they won 3-0, they will have areas where they can improve – that is the nature of the game now with analysis.

“It is a balance, you take the confidence from winning games but there are always areas to improve.”

The Football Association confirmed on Thursday that the Republic, who are currently third in League B Group One, will play Norway and Malta in friendly matches in November.

Kenny’s side will likely face Manchester City’s star striker Erling Haaland when they host the Norwegians on the evening of 17 November at the Aviva Stadium, before completing their 2022 fixtures by travelling to Ta’ Qali to face Malta at the Centenary Stadium on 20 November.

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