Robbie Keane has rubbished claims that manager Giovanni Trapattoni should resign after Ireland’s Euro 2012 embarrassment.
The Irish players flew home to little fanfare on Tuesday morning, the first time an Ireland team has not been met by a civic reception after a major finals.
Three defeats in Poland – to Croatia, Spain and Italy – and just one goal scored have led to calls for Trap’s head in some quarters.
But Keane, speaking after Monday night’s 2-0 defeat to Italy in the final Group C fixture – believes the manager is under no pressure with two years to run in his contract.
“Not a chance,” Keane told reporters when asked about calls for Trapattoni to step down.
“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.”
Ireland did offer a little more against the Italians on Monday night but even that wasn’t enough as they went down to goals from Antonio Cassano and Mario Balotelli and had midfielder Keith Andrews sent-off late in the game.
Keane 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 suggestions the team had been poorly prepared and over-trained for the tournament.
He said: “Everything has been fine. There is 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.”
Asked about his own future and any plans to retire, the LA Galaxy striker said: “It’s not really the right time to be even talking about it. The whole squad has come back off a tournament that we are all disappointed 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.”