Age Hareide believes that Ireland’s decline since the high of the Euro 2016 finals is a lesson which should not be lost on his in-form Danish team.
“Football is sometimes very strange,” said the national team manager at tonight’s match venue in Aarhus.
“At the European Championships a couple of years ago Ireland made it very, very hard for the World Cup winners France to beat them and that is good example for our side to keep our performances going because results can change the mind of the players. You have to be very, very careful at international level. It’s only a few games a year and things can change very quickly, for worse or for the better.
“We talked about that just today with the players. That is why we have to keep our feet on the ground, keep working and keep getting results.
“The side will grow on good results and lose balance on bad results. That’s football, and in international football, with so few games, that’s a problem. That’s why every game is like training and a game at the same time. And our players, the whole squad, have been really good at taking that seriously from day one.”
From his own chastening experience of seeing his management of Norway grind to a halt in 2008, Hariede was able to offer some sympathy to his old friend and rival Martin O’Neill in the latter’s current predicament.
“In my last year with Norway I had four draws and four defeats,” he said. “Four one-goal defeats and in the four draws we could have won the games. It’s so tight.
“Sometimes you get into a series of bad results and it’s hard to get out, in many ways. I saw that (Shane) Duffy said the players have to take the responsibility.
“When you are a coach you feel you desperately want to change it and get it the right way. But I can only say that when you have a bad run, you have to think of the days when you had a good run and try to do the things you did when things went the right way.
“Like I said, it can be so tight. If Wales had scored first in Wales (in their 2-1 defeat to the Danes on Friday) they could have won the group. And they had chances to do it. And we know that and we have to look at that every time we win a game. We have to look at how easy it is for it all to be turned around the other way.
“Sometimes football is hard on the managers and sometimes it’s hard because the luck is against you, in many ways. I know he (O’Neill) will be working very, very hard to try to change the luck. And that’s why we have to be on our tippy toes against Ireland.”
That said, Hareide knows he has the luxury of treating tonight’s match as something rather more like the kind of friendly the Nations League was designed to minimise. “The group is finished, we’ve done the job, we’re top of the group and now the game is to play to get better,” he said.
“We have to use every international game we can to get better and look at our squad and how everybody performs. We have a chance to change some players which is also good for the team because we need to know who is capable of playing international matches and who is capable of doing a job if we get suspensions or injuries.
“So far it’s been fantastic from the boys, the performance in Wales was good and, of course, we’re pleased and satisfied by being in this position. But we need to know that in football you’re always remembered for the last result and that’s why this game against Ireland is very important.”
Hareide will have to do without the injured Simon Kjaer and the suspended duo Kasper Schmeichel and Thomas Delaney tonight but, perhaps surprisingly, he suggested that Denmark’s star attraction Christian Eriksen – despite having only recently returned from a stomach muscle injury – is set to start the game.
However, whether the Spurs man finishes it is another matter.
“The intention is that he is going to play, that is the intention,” said the manager. “But, in this case, we have to sort of nurse him as much as possible and for that reason he probably won’t be staying on for 90 minutes.”