Tuesday 20 February 2018

Keane talks the talk, now can he walk the walk?

ROBBIE KEANE was unavailable for Ireland's humiliation at the hands of Germany last Friday.

Having recovered from an Achilles injury, he will lead out the Irish team against the Faroe Islands tonight.

Yesterday, he faced the media in a press conference taken over by discussion of the manager's future and reports of more dressing-room unrest after an argument between Stephen Kelly and Marco Tardelli.

This was his passionate response.

QUESTION: Robbie, what reaction can be expected from the players after last Friday's defeat to Germany?

Robbie Keane: Like everybody in the whole country and with the lads, everyone is very disappointed with the result. I know the players are embarrassed and I think as a whole nation, we are certainly embarrassed.

We have had a good record up to now and to get a defeat like we did on Friday in front of our home fans is very, very disappointing.

But the good thing about football is that there is always another game. If that game was it and we didn't have a game tomorrow night, it would certainly have been a long few months.

Listen, the lads accept you are going to get criticised, and I mentioned after the game that there's going to be a lot of negativity around the whole country, which there has been, and rightly so. It wasn't good enough, we all know that and we accept that, but it is up to us as players now to put this right. We will be doing our best to do that and hopefully we can rectify a little bit how bad Friday's result was by getting three points.

Q: Do the players owe Giovanni Trapattoni a positive reaction?

RK: Listen, everybody is in this together, of course we owe him. It's clear to see and I don't need to tell you the job he has done for the country.

I think as players, we let ourselves down, we let our country down. And whether you are playing or not playing, we are all in this together.

We are all going to be criticised together and it's important that we all pay back together. It will be interesting to see the separation of the men from the boys. It was not good enough on Friday and it's important now that we stand up and be counted.

Q: Do you think Giovanni Trapattoni will see his contract out, should he, and are the players behind him? (With reference to discussion of reported row with Kelly).

RK: Of course we are. Listen, there are always going to be rifts in the camp and we certainly know that as players. The players who are not playing are going to be disappointed, that's normal.

Every week since I have been playing football, every week there is one argument in the team, every week in clubs. It's normal, it's natural and it happens all the time.

Unfortunately we are in a bubble here with the Irish set-up. It's a bubble and stuff gets out and that's no problem, but this happens every week in football. Last week before I left LA Galaxy it happened, two weeks before that it happened and when I was at Tottenham it happened. It happens all the time. We are in this together and we have to stick together.

The manager has a contract and of course the players want to see that continue. We have played two games and lost one against Germany. People did not expect us to win that game. As players you try to go out and do your best. The lads tried their best and it was not good enough.

They know they let themselves down and it was not good enough. Our main priority is Sweden and Austria.

Q: With Trap at the helm?

RK: Of course. We have lost two qualifying games since he has taken over, Germany and Russia.

Q: People accept that Germany are quality opposition, but that's four losses out of five games including the Euros and people will view that as a sign of decline.

RK: People are always going to speculate and have their own views on things and that's the life we live in now with all the social media stuff. That's the type of world we are in now so people are always going to speculate and ask questions. They have the right to do that.

You get booed and they pay good money to see us play, it was not good enough on Friday and we accept that. People have got their own views.

He is here and we are all here and we have to stick together. It's okay people on the outside asking us questions, that's no problem. When we are in the hotel together and playing together, we have to stick together. It's as simple as that.

Q: So a strong reaction is needed?

RK: We need a massive reaction, we have to have a massive reaction. When you lose in the manner that we did on Friday night, we have to. We are playing against a team where we are the favourites and we should win, but it's easier said than done.

So we need a massive reaction from everybody in the squad -- the players who are playing, the players on the bench and everybody has to stick together and try to rectify Friday night by getting a decent result.

Q: Is this your biggest test as Ireland captain?

RK: Cyprus was as bad but probably worse. People probably expected us to be beaten by Germany but over the years the way we have played against these big teams, it's always been by one or two goals. But it was the manner in which we lost... that's why this game is even bigger. I think it's a big test for everybody.

Q: Do you have full confidence you have recovered from your injury?

RK: Yeah, I have to. I trained yesterday on it with the lads for the first time and it felt okay. When you have an Achilles problem it's not 100pc. I did everything I can and the doctor Alan Byrne has been great and the doctor in Cappagh Hospital, Steve.

I got an injection and at the moment it feels good but when you are playing on plastic pitches... I'll be honest with you, you've probably heard me talking about it before in America, they shouldn't be allowed in this day and age. I don't think it's good for players, but hopefully it holds up and I'm confident it will.

Q: You say 'stand up and be counted'... did you criticise players in last few days?

RK: No, I didn't criticise anyone. After the game, you have to say something and try and rally the lads the best you can.

The senior players like myself, John O'Shea and Keith Andrews have been trying to rally the troops and trying the best we can to keep the spirits high because it's always tough when you lose a game in that manner. With the amount of young players we have, it's important that we get around them. Listen, we will see tomorrow the reaction of the players.

Q: You watched from the stands on Friday, why do you think the performance was what it was?

RK: We weren't good enough and didn't play the way we know we can and we played a team that was a lot superior to us with a bigger, stronger squad and better players than us, that's the only way I can really answer it.

Irish Independent

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