Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni has again tried to blame his players for their European Championship embarrassment, and claimed they were “impotent” in Poland.
The Italian has come under fire since Ireland returned home on Tuesday afternoon with just one goal and no points to show for their European Championship endeavors.
Former Irish captain Kenny Cunningham has called on the FAI to part company with Trapattoni after consecutive defeats to Croatia (3-1), Spain (4-0) and Italy (2-0).
Even Trapattoni’s ally Liam Brady has admitted there is now a gun to the manager’s head after Ireland matched the worst ever performance by any team at a European Championship finals.
Trapattoni has come out fighting in the wake of the criticism, however, and insisted he will put it right in the qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil.
And he again accused his players of bottling it when they made a return to the big stage after a 10-year absence from tournament football.
Speaking before his team returned to Dublin, Trapattoni said, “In two games we had very few reactions, we were impotent.
“Conceding a goal at the start meant that we went to war without weapons and in this situation it is very difficult.”
The 73-year-old Italian, with two years left to win on his FAI contract, also defended his four years in charge of the Irish team before their arrival at Dublin Airport on Tuesday -- the first time, incidentally, any Irish squad has arrived home to no official reception.
“I know how it works. We lost and I have to take the criticism,” Trapattoni said.
“When you are a manager people are grateful for you when you win and critical when you lose.
“But do I have to remind you that it had been 24 years since Ireland were at the European Championships?
“I must defend the job I have done because it is the truth that I have done well. We qualified for the European Championships and could have qualified for the World Cup if it were not for Thierry Henry’s handball.
“I am proud to be in charge of this team, but if I tell the truth it would seem like I want to humiliate people.”
Trapattoni also hit back at claims in Tuesday’s press conference that he was too loyal to his senior players in the finals.
“When you do your job well - until now, I think they have played well for our country, and we must have a reason,” he said.
“In your job, when you get old, if they gave you a pension and say go, without respect, what would you think?
“It’s not loyalty only, it’s correct. We asked them on Monday for a good performance and we played very well. We played at the same level as Italy.
“We need a reason to change it on the pitch. Aiden McGeady played well, Kevin Doyle played well, also Robbie.
“It’s not loyalty, it’s respect because they helped us to achieve qualification and we must give them the honor of playing.
“You are not sure that if you make changes, the result will be any different. It’s 50-50. When you are sure, you can change, but only after the 90 minutes can you be sure that the change is good.
“Until now is has been good, and I can’t just turn the page and forget about it. It’s not professional, it is not correct.”
As for potential retirements within the squad, Trapattoni confirmed that he has spoken to some of his senior players but has yet to hear their decisions.
“I can say the names, but I won’t say the names. I am sure they need to stay with their families, I don’t know,” said Trapattoni.
“But I said two months ago, it is important for us that these senior players help also the young to gain new experience. That’s life, it is not only football.
“The young are usually arrogant or shy and the senior players help them grow. That is life, it is not only football.”
Ireland captain Robbie Keane has hit out at claims that manager Giovanni Trapattoni should lose his job in the wake of the team’s European Championship disappointment.
Keane, yet to decide on his own international future, believes Trapattoni must be allowed to see out the remaining two years on his contract.
“There’s no chance of a change in management, why should there be?” asked Keane in response to questions about Trap’s future.
“That’s just going against everything we’ve done in the last four years. We have played that way for four years under Trap so I think it would be wrong to come into a tournament and try to change that.
“It’s the manager’s decision so we were happy for the last four years with the way we’ve playing. This tournament, we can talk about tactics and stuff like that, but I don’t think it’s anything like that.
“It’s been disappointing for everyone of course. You want to do the best you can and make the country proud. I don’t know whether the players could have done any more than they did. They gave 100%.
“I think sometimes in life you just have to hold your hands up and say we’ve been beaten by better teams.”
Keane also spoke of the disappointment within the Irish squad after their Euro effort ended with a third straight defeat, this time to the Italians on Monday.
He added, “We’re disappointed. We wanted to try and give something to the fans and the players to go home with.
“It is disappointing that we didn’t get something out of the game. It was a game that going in to it we knew we could get something out of it, but we were beaten again by two set-piece goals, which we haven’t been getting beaten in that department in a long time.
“I think we got in their faces a lot more. We knew from playing against Italy in previous games about getting into their faces and not give them much time and that was the case tonight.
“We played well in some parts but without again creating too many chances for ourselves. To get beaten from a corner from probably the smallest player on the pitch is disappointing.”
Keane also dismissed all talk of disharmony within the group or problems with Ireland’s preparations.
He stated, “Everything has been fine. There are no excuses. We can stand here and say this, that and the other, but we couldn’t have prepared as well as we have.
“We can’t be making excuses. We have been beaten by teams that are superior and it’s as simple as that.”
As regards his own future, Keane said, “It’s not really the right time to be even talking about it to come back. The whole squad has come back off a tournament that we are all disappointed in so it wouldn’t be the right time.
“It’s not whether I’m making my mind up or not saying anything and carrying on. Who knows? I’m not really thinking about it to be honest. We’ll just leave it at that.”
Andrews Takes Blame
Ireland midfielder Keith Andrews admitted he let the country down when he was sent off with just minutes remaining of Monday night’s final Euro 2012 game against Italy.
The midfielder, out of contract at West Brom and currently without a club, also admitted the team had sold the fans short in Poland after three straight defeats.
“We weren’t good enough, simple as that,” Andrews told reporters after he was sent off and then kicked a ball into the crowd petulantly in Poznan.
“It’s been bitterly disappointing. We said before the tournament we wanted to give a good account of ourselves and there was no point coming for the craic. We said that after we qualified against Estonia.
“To be perfectly frank, we simply weren’t good enough. We didn’t play as well as we could have.
“We played against some fantastic opposition but the bottom line is we weren’t good enough.”
Andrews also claimed that the Irish players know they didn’t play to anything like their potential at the Euros.
He added, “We weren’t at the races certainly in the first game against Croatia.
“The second game against Spain, we have got to hold our hands up. We were playing against a fantastic side. No matter how well you play you are probably going to lose.
“Against Italy we gave a better account of ourselves and put it to them a little bit more. We showed a bit more fight that you are used to seeing from us, but again we fell that little bit short.”
The former Blackburn midfielder also issued a plea to Ireland’s senior players to stay around for the start of the World Cup campaign in September as the likes of Shay Given, Damien Duff and Robbie Keane consider their future.
“The manager, I’m sure, will get a group together for the friendly in August going into the qualifiers in September,” he said.
“The lads have got so much quality about them. They have been fantastic servants. You see Damien Duff on Monday night with his 100th cap. They are absolute stalwarts of the team of the last ten or 12 years.
“On a personal note, I’ve really enjoyed playing with them so hopefully they don’t quit, but it’s their decision.”