Trapattoni hits back at Keane's managerial record

Republic of Ireland coach becomes angry when confronted with criticism from TV analyst - but accepts he has made mistakes

Gydnia

The morning after the nightmare before. There was very evident flatness and sombreness to Ireland's training session here in Gydnia yesterday, as many players moped around doing little following the 4-0 defeat by Spain and the manager Giovanni Trapattoni was forced to defend his position and deflect criticism from Roy Keane.

The loss, of course, not only ensured that Ireland are the first team eliminated from Euro 2012 but that they endured the worst tournament in their history. Never before have they lost two successive games at a major championship. Never before have they been out of contention in the last group game. In other words, Ireland know what it's like to just make up the numbers.

As such, one of the first questions at yesterday's post-mortem press conference was whether the manager's own number is, indeed, up? Is he the right man to lead Ireland to the 2014 World Cup? Trapattoni, who has already signed a contract to take him through the next qualifying campaign, very swiftly deflected such suggestions.

"I have more enthusiasm [than ever] to stay. I think we deserve this, because we qualified [for the European Championship] for the first time after 24 years. The [Irish fans] also, after the third goal, they applauded. They are our people. They are proud. I told the players this."

It was this applause and general mood of forgiveness that had so riled Roy Keane, working for ITV, the night before. Trapattoni was asked about Keane's comments and the manager became angry and agitated and seemed to questions Keane's managerieal credentials. "Roy Keane has been a very great player," he said. "He knows when Ireland was a strong team because this generation was very high. It's not my opinion to be critical. What did he do after he played?

With Trapattoni's point unclear in English, he turned to his translator, Manuela Spinelli, to ensure his comments were understood. "He was a great player. Now, he's a coach, he should focus on getting results."

Unlike the previous night in the immediate post-match press conference, though, Trapattoni did admit some regrets – particularly in midfield, where his usual choice of just two in the centre allowed Spain such space and also the platform to eventually pummel Ireland.

"When I lose, I don't sleep. I watched the game again. It is difficult to make the right analysis because, when you start the game and concede, it is very difficult. I already said, when we lose, only the manager loses. But I said also, 'two minutes, one goal'. That changes everything, from the tactics, to the attitude, to the system.

"I am proud to come to the European Championships with this team, with these players. I will look to help the midfield. We have this situation, three against two, and it's very difficult this situation."

Trapattoni, however, did repeat his reservations over the players' "psychology" and whether the exact height of the stage saw them freeze. "This situation, I haven't seen in two years. We never had this fear. I asked today, why do I see them so very well in training, very well when they play together with determination, with commitment? Why did we start these two games with fear? We did not have the same attitude? Maybe it's the impact of the European Championship."

To close that European Championship, though, Trapattoni insisted he would not make many changes to his side as qualification is tight between the other three teams in the group (see above).

"If we change now, suppose Italy beat the Irish, do you think Spain or Croatia will be happy? The manager must always put out a strong team. If I was to play young players against Italy, there could be a perception of favouring my own country. I do have changes in mind, but then I could be accused of this."

As to whether any of that first XI would retire, Trapattoni said no one had said they would yet. "At the moment, nobody has come to me. I know our captain [Robbie Keane] is proud to [play for Ireland]." Shay Given, however, appeared a little more unsure in the previous night's mixed zone. "I don't know. Obviously things are a bit raw at the moment," the goalkeeper said.

Roy Keane's blast

We're a small country, we're up against it, but let's not just go along for the sing-song every now and again.

"To praise the supporters for the sake of it... Let's change that attitude towards Irish supporters.

"I think the players and even the supporters, they all have to change their mentality, it's just nonsense from players speaking after the games about how great the supporters are."

Qualifying criteria

Should two or more sides finish on the same points, the teams will be separated by the following criteria:

* Head-to-head record between teams in question

* Goal difference (if more than two teams level) and then goals scored.

If two sides are still level, the above criteria are reapplied. If still level:

* Overall goal difference, then goals scored. If two still level, and play in the final game, penalties takes place.

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