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Giovanni Trapattoni digging heels in as pressure mounts

Updated: Saturday, 13 Oct 2012 18:49 | Comments

National newspapers have lost patience with Giovanni Trapattoni
National newspapers have lost patience with Giovanni Trapattoni

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Giovanni Trapattoni was tonight digging in for a fight amid a growing backlash over the Republic of Ireland's embarrassing 6-1 thrashing by Germany.

The 73-year-old Italian rose this morning to read damning newspaper headlines in the wake of their hammering at the Aviva Stadium with one proclaiming "Trap must go" and another pleading "Go now!".

But as he had done in the immediate aftermath of last night's debacle, Trapattoni was stubbornly refusing to bow to the mounting pressure.

Asked what would make him consider his future, he replied: "When there is no positivity, when I ask the team to do something and they do not do it.

"I said to the team, 'Right, what can we do? You can tell me if you don't believe this or this or this, why?'.

"I have never said to the team not to stay back and not to try to score goals. We give them jobs and we have a system to get goals, and the players believe in this.

"The team tries to do what we ask and they are happy to do it also."

"We give them jobs and we have a system to get goals, and the players believe in this" - Giovanni Trapattoni

There is a growing belief, however, that whatever the deficiencies of the players available to Trapattoni, the Republic have drastically under-performed since qualifying for the Euro 2012 finals, and whether the manager likes it or not, matters are coming to a head.

In the last five competitive matches, a run of fixtures which includes a dire campaign in Poland, Ireland have shipped 16 goals and scored just four.

It is a far cry from the not too distant days when miserly defence - at one point, they went eight games in all competitions without conceding a single goal and were unbeaten in 14 as they headed for Poland - provided the foundation for genuine optimism.

Throughout that run, the Italian's critics bemoaned the lack of adventure in his team, a barb the manager was always able to counter by pointing at results.

That is a defence which no longer applies.

It was put to him that some other managers might have decided to call it a day after such a run of results, but again, Trapattoni was unmoved as he defended the record under his regime.

He said: "There are other managers who wish to go, but we have done our job very well and we want to continue."

Trapattoni shows no sign of being prepared to fall upon his sword, and the cash-strapped Football Association of Ireland can ill afford to put together a severance package for the veteran and his entourage having handed them fresh contracts after they had secured qualification for the European Championships.

But with popular, as well as critical, acclaim now fading - Trapattoni was booed by sections of a packed house at the Aviva Stadium when he collected the ball on the touchline during last night's game - the mood is growing increasingly ugly, and the names of Mick McCarthy, Roy Keane and the recently-dispatched Owen Coyle have already been mentioned as potential successors.

In the short term, the manager faces the task of eradicating the memories of a black night for Irish football and rebuilding confidence for Tuesday night's trip to the Faroe Islands, where a failure to win would prompt a significant increase in the volume of the chorus of disapproval.

Trapattoni said: "Last night when we got back to the hotel after the match, I spoke to the players before dinner.

"They were obviously all deflated, but I told them that when you lose, conceding on goal or six goals or three goals, it's the same.

"It's three points gone, it only changes the psychological situation. I reminded them that when they play at their clubs and they lose a game, they often have another one after three days and they have to start again for that next match with the same enthusiasm and immediately forget the defeat.

"Obviously, our performance was inferior to our previous performances and Germany were clearly superior to us technically and physically as well.

"But our target is not Germany, our target is Sweden and Austria, and in the next games, the Faroes.

"We can accept defeat against Germany. Realistically, we were never going to compete against Germany for first place in the group.

"Our aim is to compete, as I have already said, with Sweden and Austria. We have to re-charge the batteries and focus on the next match in the Faroes on Tuesday.

"We have to win and we will look to win."

If they do not, it may not be a question of whether the FAI can afford to sack Trapattoni, but rather if they can afford not to.

Meanwhile, Trapattoni will make a decision on whether or not skipper Robbie Keane travels to the Faroe Islands tomorrow.

The 32-year-old LA Galaxy striker missed last night's drubbing with an Achilles injury, but has not yet been ruled out of Tuesday night's Group C game in Torshavn.

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