AN ANGRY Jack Charlton last - night lashed back at his critics as he began final preparations for his "longest day" as Irish manager.
He began the countdown to the make-or-break showdown with The Netherlands on the longest day of the year by refusing to budge from playing system he devised when he took over the helm 40 games ago
Stung by criticisms of Sunday's scoreless draw with Egypt he said: "If we'd scored a goal we'd have all been heroes. We didn't score so we're bums."
He said it ‘would be disastrous to change tactics at this late stage.
Despite this, he felt most people who watched the match against Egypt understood the difficulties involved in overcoming a side that didn’t want to play. But he gave few clues as to the side he will send out to tackle the Dutch. Speculation is rife that Ronnie Whelan will get a midfield place.
Win, lose or draw tomorrow around 1,000 Irish fans look likely to be disappointed.
After making the long journey to Sicily they will have to watch the match on television. FAI secretary Tony O'Neill admitted last night that every means of procuring tickets had been exhausted — a meagre 70 tickets comprised merely a morsel of comfort when handed over to the FAI by FIFA this morning.
The scarce commodities were scheduled to be raffled at what is likely to be a stormy meeting of fans outside the Della Favorita Stadium around 10.30 a.m.
Eight English soccer fans were sentenced to short prison terms for drunken brawling yesterday. But the sentences were suspended as the fans were expelled from Italy.
All eight were convicted of brawling and causing material damage during drunken fighting with stones and bottles in a bar and the streets of Alghero in the early hours of last Thursday. Three of the eight were charged additionally with resisting police.