Keane laughs off talk of Trapattoni resigning


ROBBIE KEANE last night laughed off the idea that Giovanni Trapattoni might come under pressure to resign after the Republic of Ireland lost their third straight game at these European Championships. The team returns to Dublin as it left a few weeks ago, with no points on the board, but the Irish skipper was dismissive of the suggestion that, having failed to change his tactics or personnel, the Italian’s position should now be under threat.

“Not a chance,” Keane almost snorted as he started to walk away from an interview in which he had insisted that changing an approach that had got Ireland to these finals would have been folly and that the team’s limited ability rather than the manager’s inflexibility had been at the heart of Ireland’s failure to be more competitive.

“It’s the manager’s decision and we were quite happy, weren’t we, for the last four years with the way we’ve been playing. Then at this tournament, we can talk about tactics and all of that but I don’t think it’s been any of that to be honest with you.

“Changing things would have been to just go against everything that we’ve done in the last four years, the way we’ve played, and I think it would have been wrong to go into a tournament and try to make changes like that.”

Some of the manager’s critics have also suggested that the players looked tired in their earlier group games but Keane, who confirmed he will carry on playing international football, contended that their preparations had been fine: “Everything has been fine, honestly,” he said, “there are no excuses . . . we can stand here and start talking about this, that and the other but we couldn’t have prepared any better than we did and we can’t be making excuses when we’ve been beaten by teams that were superior to us; it’s as simple as that.”

Last night, at least, there was a little more evidence of the spirit that has seen this team through some rough times before but it rarely really looked like being enough to earn them a result here, particularly when they couldn’t do the basics, like defending corners, a little better.

“We probably got in their faces a lot more,” acknowledged Keane. “We knew from playing against Italy on previous occasions that you have to get in their faces and not give them much time to play. That was the case tonight. We’ve played well in some parts without creating too many chances. But then to concede from a corner against the smallest player on the pitch (Antonio Cassano) is disappointing.

“We wanted to give the fans and players something to go home with. It’s disappointing that we didn’t get something out of the game. It was a game that, going into it, we knew we could get something out of. But we’re beaten again by two set-piece goals, the sort that we haven’t been conceding for a long time.”

Keith Andrews, meanwhile, said that he was disappointed that his championship had ended with a sending off but insisted that the decision had been harsh. He had, he observed pointedly, said nothing to the referee afterwards “that I regret”.

The Italians, he remarked, had simply been too good and the Irish had again struggled to make an impact against opponents of their quality.