Tuesday 16 January 2018

Euro 2012: Trapattoni is still fighting for victory in blame game

DION FANNING in Sopot

Giovanni Trapattoni has renewed his criticism of the Irish team saying the squad as a whole lacked the leadership to respond after conceding early goals in their two defeats to Croatia and Spain last week.

"Nobody would speak because the morale had immediately gone down," he said yesterday. "In the past, when we start with our attitude, our commitment, we have achieved the good result.

"Now we are inferior, because we need to chase the game. We can also play with confidence. We can. At this key moment the shirt weighed heavily on them."

Ireland, he claimed, "were not natural, not normal" in their response to the goals they conceded, which led to the side's elimination from the tournament last Thursday night.

Trapattoni has faced heavy criticism for his team selection and substitutions during Ireland's two defeats. Immediately after the defeat to Spain in Gdansk on Thursday, he stated that Ireland had played with "fear" and while he took ultimate responsibility, he has again criticised the performance of his players at crucial moments.

"I ask these players but I haven't an answer," he said when trying to explain how a team he claimed "could play with their eyes closed" before the tournament had stumbled and made the mistakes he was supposed to eradicate.



Again, he repeated the claim that Ireland were fearful. "Our behaviour on pitch gave me the impression we start with fear, with too much respect for the opposition."

When asked if he felt there was a lack of leadership on the field, Trapattoni responded, "It wasn't one person, it was everybody."

Yesterday, the players insisted they would be keeping their meetings with Trapattoni to discuss Ireland's failure private.

"He has discussed it with us but he says those things in confidence," Shane Long said yesterday. "We're not stupid, we know what went wrong on the night and how to improve on that. It's just frustrating. We've waited six months for it to come and after four or five days, it's all out of your hands. So it's a bit of a kick in the teeth. It's very disappointing because we worked very hard to get here and then for it all to go down the pan like that is not nice."

Against Spain, Ireland suffered their worst competitive defeat in more than 40 years, since Austria beat an experimental Irish side which had already failed to qualify for the 1972 European Championships 6-0 in Linz in October 1971.

Trapattoni suggested yesterday that the players' lack of Champions League experience may have counted against them as they tried to chase the game. "They don't have international experience, how many play in the Champions League or the Europa League?" he asked of the most-capped Irish squad ever to appear at a major finals.

Richard Dunne described the defeat to Spain as "heart-breaking" and "devastating" and raised the possibility that he, along with others including Shay Given and Damien Duff, might consider retirement.

"I can't speak for other players, I don't think anyone has made their minds up. It's very hard to take because you come to a tournament with high expectations, but realistically -- are we ever going to win anything? Are we going to win the World Cup or how far can we go? At the moment, I think we've hit our level, we can compete in groups, we can get to play-offs, and hopefully qualify but in actual finals there are no weaker teams."

Dunne picked up a knock on his hip in training yesterday but he will play tomorrow. Despite the failure of the team and the clamour for new faces, the manager will resist making changes against his native country. "I will recognise the players who got us here," he said. "They are proud to have done that. I don't care if Italy goes forward or not. My goal is to finish well, to finish with honour."

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