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%.