Whelan hints at disquiet over tactics


REACTION:GLENN WHELAN came as close any Irish player has in some time to questioning the tactics of manager Giovanni Trapattoni in the wake of last night’s crushing defeat and – with one group game still to play – elimination from these European Championships.

The Stoke City midfielder had, like most of his team-mates, endured a torrid night at the hands of Torres and co.

He readily admitted that they contributed a good deal to their own downfall with a succession errors – many of which were forced – aiding the Spanish effort but, he insisted, the task of holding the world champions at bay in midfield was not made any easier by the manager’s insistence on broadly sticking with his rigid tactical approach.

“It’s hard when you’re playing two in there and they’ve got three, four and five,” he said. “But it’s got us here and it’s the way the manager wants us to play so all you can do is your best and I think we’ve given it our all against the top players in the world and I think we can still hold our heads up high

“The manager wants us to play with two up top and whatever the manager wants us to do we have to do because he picks the team.

“But look, I think against Spain you have to be tight and compact and unfortunately we weren’t like that in the second half, although that’s down to tired legs as well.

“Obviously it’s hard to take. Spain are, I’d say, definitely the best side in the world. But still, sloppy goals were conceded and it killed us. They have been down to us. I think that they’ve created chances without really ripping us open much. Shay had one or two good saves to make but other than that I think the goals we’ve given away are mainly down to us.”

The timing of the goals was a factor again, with Ireland conceding at key moments, the start of each half, when they would have been expected to be especially alert to the danger.

The Dubliner admits that only added to the pain of what was a devastating defeat.

“All credit to Spain, they deserved to win but, yeah, definitely, it was something we talked about beforehand. We tried to stop it, to keep ourselves in the game this time but after three minutes we were chasing the game again. I don’t know what it is, about three minutes, but whatever it is, it’s killing us.”

The instructions prior to kick off had, he says, a familiar ring to them.

“The same. Same as. What has served us well and got us here. Be tight and compact, don’t concede sloppy goals - which we hadn’t done until we came over to Poland.

“These things hurt you but still, we brush ourselves down and get ourselves going again for Italy because we have to give the fans something to shout about because they’ve been great for us.”

Aiden McGeady got a sympathetic pat on the arm from Andres Iniesta as the Spain star passed while the former Celtic player was speaking, but it would have taken a little more than to lift the winger’s spirits.

“They are the best I have played against: international, Champions League, anything,” he said.

“Every single one of their players are comfortable on the ball. They always have an option five yards or 10 yards away. If I wasn’t playing, that’s the team I would want to be watching.”

But if we had kept it tighter at the back . . . but there is no-one to blame. It is a team collectively and it is everyone to blame. If we had kept it tighter at the back in the first 10 minutes and again in the second-half it might have been different but we couldn’t get the ball off them.

“At times we tried to play football,” he concluded, “but it is difficult in games like that where you are working so hard to try and get the ball back and when you do get it you are almost out of breath and trying to do something with it.”

NOT KEANE: Roy's rant

Roy Keane reacted angrily to the Republic of Ireland's performance.

I think the players and even the supporters, they all have to change their mentality, its just nonsense from players speaking after the games about how great the supporters are, said the Cork man on ITV1 after the game.

Keane was critical of a post- match interview in which Keith Andrews heaped praise on the Spanish before saluting the Republics vocal fans.

Listen, the supporters want to see the team doing a lot better and not giving daft goals away like that, said Keane. Im not too happy with all that nonsense. To praise the supporters for sake of it … Lets change that attitude towards Irish supporters. They want to see the team winning - lets not kid ourselves, were a small country, were up against it, but lets not just go along for the sing-song every now and again.