Giovanni Trapattoni started his post Spain press conference by stating, “I usually do not sleep the night I lose a game. This game was very difficult to analyze because when you lose an early goal to strong teams, it changes everything. This is the reason I looked to help the midfield. I will also put in players who can play up front. It was difficult because Spain were superior in every position on the pitch.”
When asked if he had analyzed his own performance, the Italian replied, “When you lose it easy to say you (the manager) made a mistake. I said before that it was very difficult to play with the same lineup because we play with two strikers and two wingers so it is very difficult to keep the same lineup. We played with only one striker against Spain, with two strikers until now, we achieved qualification for the first time in 24 years so that has served us well until now.”
The 73 year-old came out fighting when asked if he was the right man to lead Ireland into the 2014 World Cup qualifiers by emotively stating that he is indeed the man to lead Ireland into those qualifiers: ”I think we did well to qualify for the Euro after 24 years. Look at the players in this team and the players in other teams. I have the enthusiasm to keep managing and the Irish people can decide. The players must be proud for this country. You (journalists) make your job, I know your job.”
Trapattoni went on to state that so far none of his senior players have spoken to him about retiring. There had been rumours that legendary goalkeeper Shay Given would step aside after Monday’s final match against Italy, but Trapattoni revealed "No player has come to speak to me about retirement. You saw Robbie Keane yesterday. He is proud to captain this group of players.”
Trapattoni went on to field a question from an English journalist and the manager said that he had asked the players why there had been such a difference between their performance in qualification and at the tournament itself.
“I asked the players why did they train very well and with determination and commitment but then we started these two games (at the Euros against Croatia and Spain) with fear on the ball. Maybe it impacted on us that this was a major competition and not a friendly or a qualifier. A finals tournament is very different to that. Before yesterday, I thought maybe this impacted on a few players, I am proud of our players though and I must have respect for them. Are you Irish? No. Now I will speak to the Irish journalists!! I am proud to have this team to qualify.”
He went on to state that there is nothing ’systemically’ wrong with Irish football.
“These (Irish international) players play in important matches. They play in Premier League and European (club) competitions. We have plenty of young important players. We conceded a goal after two minutes of both our opening two games and psychologically it affected us badly.
“And, yes, I do feel responsible for the psychological state of the team. It is the manager’s job to take responsibility. Psychologically we came out of the dressing room and we were saying: ’GO, GO GO’ (with fists clenched, banging the table animatedly) so it is not easy to say what happened. The team was not confused though. They knew exactly what they needed to do. When you concede so early though, it changes everything and changes all the plans you have made. I played Cox to stifle Alonso who plays a similar role to Pirlo. When Spain scored so early though, it changed the whole mentality and psychology of our players.”
When asked if the Irish (as the lowest ranked country in the tournament) were just not good enough and that luck was a major factor for us to even qualify for the finals, Trapattoni replied.
"The ranking is clear but we were not lucky to qualify. We played well in qualifying and against Czech Republic, Hungary and Bosnia (pre tournament friendlies) we did okay. The first 90 minutes (of the tournament) is very, very important. Spain played without their most important striker (Torres) in their first 90 minutes and I don’t know why."
They played without him in the first game and yesterday he scored two goals against us. A manager must prepare for many things; psychologically, physically, tactically and technically. It is more difficult when you do not know what the other team will do. The circumstances with the scoring of the goal so early in both matches changed the outlook of the game entirely. I am still the man to lead this Irish team though.”
James Clancy is a freelance reporter currently reporting at EURO 2012. You can read more of his work and see more of his images from Poland on his website - http://hoogensports.com/