Trap eager to remain in his post
SOCCER:GIOVANNI TRAPATTONI said last night he has no intention of walking away from the Ireland job in the wake of his team’s early exit from Euro 2012, with the 73-year-old insisting he still has an appetite for football management.
“I am still hungry,” said the Italian after what seemed to have been, by some distance, the squad’s most subdued training session.
“Whatever results I’ve achieved are in the past. I want more. And when I lose I want revenge.”
Trapattoni faced a number of questions about his future in a post he is contracted to occupy for another two years but he seemed to take in his stride what were fairly gentle suggestions really that he might reflect upon his position.
“When we lose it is easy (for others) to say there were mistakes. I know your jobs. We wanted to win this game but it didn’t happen because Spain were too strong for us. But until now we have had good results, we deserve the opportunity to take this team to Brazil.”
He denied shifting blame for the results to date here in Poland away from himself and on to his players.
“No, no, no,” he said, “when the team loses the manager loses, it is my fault that we lost, I thought the players were confident.” But in one of several references to the fact that a team which had previously been fairly solid defensively had taken to making repeated and costly errors at the back during key periods early in halves, he observed: “In three minutes in two games we conceded a goal and it’s difficult to understand why.”
His immediate focus, he insisted however, was on Monday’s game against Italy, who need to win themselves and hope there is not a high-scoring draw in the other group game, precisely like Trapattoni’s Italy in 2004 when they went out because the Swedes and Danes drew 2-2. He intends, he says, to field what he regards as his strongest side.
“I have one or two changes in mind, but I cannot make five or six or seven because of what the Spanish and Croats would say.”
Pressed on whether his focus should not be on what is best for the future development of his own team, he insisted that while that is certainly an important factor, “there is an obligation on every manager to put his strongest team on the field. It is important and I do not want to be accused of favouring the country of my birth.”
The manager said he needed, in any case, to show respect towards the players who had achieved qualification for these championships.
“Afterwards there will be the opportunity to change,” he said.
“In Belgrade in August, you will see the new players, I have two or three in mind, I know them but now I owe these players respect, they deserve it and it is not right to speak about what will happen afterwards until this game has been played.”
The question of who will stay and who, if anyone, will retire became more of an issue on Thursday evening when Shay Given suggested he would be weighing up his future over the coming weeks.
“It’s all a bit raw at the moment because we’ve lost an important game,” said the 36-year-old as he left the Gdansk Arena. “At some point I’m going to have to make a decision. I’ll go home and I’ll have a long, hard think about it. It’s something for me to think about when I’m on holiday and I’ll discuss it with my family first before I make a decision.
“After the Italy game, we haven’t got another game until August so there is a bit of time for me to make my mind up. There are a few months to consider things. I’m hurting really badly at the moment so it would be foolish to make a decision. But I think it might be time to step aside and let somebody else come into the side now.”
Trapattoni said he will speak to the goalkeeper and all of his other senior players – Richard Dunne suggested two weeks ago he would stay on but a number of the other older players have yet to make their intentions clear.
Asked about the fact that six of his starting line-up against the Spanish were 30 or older, Trapattoni said he would still prefer them to continue playing for the moment so they could be replaced gradually. His concern that he might be faced with having to replace so many key members of his side before or during what promising to be a tough World Cup qualification campaign was readily apparent.
Both Given and his manager, meanwhile, reacted to criticism by Roy Keane in their own ways.
The Donegal man quietly asserted the fans were entitled to enjoy themselves but that: “We didn’t come here just to have a good time, we came here to try and get out of the group stage and progress in the competition. Unfortunately, we weren’t good enough but you can’t say we weren’t trying or that we didn’t take it seriously.”
Trapattoni was, not for the first time, a little more dismissive but in the end said simply: “Roy Keane was a great player in a very different Ireland team. I am proud to have been the manager of this team at these championships.”