'All we were missing was a little more impact around the box'
Giovanni Trapattoni has emerged as something of a Cassandra figure since the European Championships although in his case all of the predictions he makes involve a brighter future for this Ireland team and it’s far from certain that he has much faith in them himself.
Having been left with little option of late but to embrace youth and give opportunities to some of those previously left to live life on the international margins, however, he now appears to be becoming a believer.
Last night, there were certainly signs that there might indeed be brighter times ahead with Ireland’s performance, even in defeat, suggesting that a younger, more stylish side could rise from the ashes of the Euros inferno.
Clearly, there remains a great deal of work to be done and it still seems doubtful whether Giovanni Trapattoni can get through enough of it to ensure that his side mounts even a serious challenge for a play-off place.
Despite the defeat he had just witnessed, however, he seemed determined here to persuade any remaining sceptics that it really can be done.
“I think everyone who has seen the game and our performance will understand why the result was such a great disappointment to us,” said the 73-year-old. “But the performance gave me confirmation of what I had seen already in players like McCarthy, Long and McClean. They showed what they can bring to the team.
“We had more possession and more chances but football is about the result and not just the performance. I watched, though, and I can say that all we were missing was a little more impact around the box. I watched the players show their personality in what was a very difficult team, they reacted well even after we conceded the goal and that is not easy.
“When I spoke at the press conference yesterday, one of the first things I said was that I had seen McClean and others look strong and fresh and I saw that again tonight.
“And we were unlucky. After one minute the referee missed an obvious penalty.
“In the second half there is also one against Doyle. It’s not an excuse but these should have been penalties. Maybe you don’t expect to get the first because it’s so early but the second . . . thank God it was a friendly game.
“That is football, though,” he continued, “there are the mistakes of the players, the mistakes of the managers and the mistakes of the referees. We have to accept them all.”
We had, he added, to take into account the strength of the opposition too. “This team is strong,” he said, “it has played together a long time and they beat Russia in the summer. They are good but we did well against them.
“It was important to produce another good performance after the disappointment of Germany.
“ I am happy that we did that. Again we saw the progression that was there against Kazakhstan and the Faroes.”
He was clear too about the player with whom he was happiest.
“Coleman was fantastic,” he said. “For me he was the man of the match. He must have delivered 20 crosses from the line. That is fantastic.”
The news from Sweden’s game against England suggested that Zlatan Ibrahimovic had had a pretty good night too.
“I hope he has used up all his fuel by the time we play them,” Trapattoni joked before adding, “he is a great player and they are a good team but we will not be beaten already when we go there, that is for sure.”