Whelan says it's not only Trapattoni under pressure
INTERVIEW:Stoke stalwart says Republic need to try and ‘kick on and get much better’
It wasn’t, perhaps, the most ringing endorsement Giovanni Trapattoni has received from one of his players since the FAI decided last month to stick with the Italian in the wake of the 6-1 thrashing by Germany. Glenn Whelan, though, was quick to acknowledge that after the disappointment of Euro 2012, followed by the humiliation of that German defeat, the manager is far from the only one in the camp under pressure.
Had he been worried that Trapattoni might go after the Germany game?
“Ah, we weren’t worried,” he said. “He’s the manager of the national team, there’ll be managers after him and there were managers before him. Obviously it’s a big thing because results haven’t been right of late, but it’s nice for the FAI to back him and hopefully let him get on with the job now.”
From your point of view, were you happy to see him stay?
“From my point of view, yeah, well, either or. For me, I’ve no real say on who the manager is going to be, or if he should stay or not. He’s the manager now and if I’m told to do something I’ll try and do it. It’s obviously difficult because we’re going through a bit of a sticky patch and people’s heads are on the line.”
“If we lose against Greece and the performance is not right I’m sure it’ll be brought back up again and things will be said, so we’ve got a couple of points to prove and it’s up to us, not just as individuals, but as a team, to try and kick on and get much better.”
The injured Whelan watched the German game from the stands but even before that he was still struggling to put the pain of Euro 2012 behind him.
“I can only speak for myself, but yeah, I do dwell on it. It was a massive thing for me and for my family. And because it didn’t go well, you feel disappointed, embarrassed at times because of people’s expectations when we got out there.
“Something like that, you can’t just put it out of your mind and forget about it. People are still talking about it now. I think other every Irish sportsperson afterwards was compared to us, how well they’d done and how bad the Irish football team had done. It’s hit us really hard.”
And there was no escaping that feeling when he went on holidays with his family.
“You’d have to ask my wife what I was like. I’ve got two young kids and once I’m around them football is put to the back of your mind, but when you stop playing by the pool and you sit back and think about it . . . it’s hard to take, it’s hard to forget about. The sooner we can get back to winning ways and putting in good performances the better, then we’ll kick on and, hopefully, get the confidence back.”
What might help, he says, is Trapattoni’s apparent concession, finally, that playing just two in midfield against ‘decent’ opposition isn’t, perhaps, wise.
“I’ve said it for a long time, we’ve been over-exposed in there, because I can’t remember the last team I played against when it was a proper 4-4-2. We’re getting overpowered, yet we’re still taking stick, no one has ever given us, whoever’s played in there, any praise for being the two playing against three at times. The manager has changed it around a little bit and if he sticks to it, I think it’ll probably benefit us because we’ll be more able to adapt.”
Whelan, meanwhile, said he believed his former international room-mate Darron Gibson had made “the wrong decision” when he opted to make himself unavailable after Euro 2012.
“He felt he should have had a better look-in the Euros and he’s showing his disappointment, but I think you show it in a different way – come in and play and train as well as you can, do it that way. That’s what I would have done, but he’s his own man and he thought it was the right decision, so you’ve got to respect it.”
He added the ‘tried and trusted’ deserve some respect.
“It’s you (the media) who have been asking to change it and bring different players in, so when different players are brought in and don’t step up, then whose fault is it? The changes were made and it didn’t happen. You’ve got to give more credit to the lads who’ve been in the team and who have been doing it. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side.”