WHILE MANY OF the players and fans were downbeat following Ireland’s disappointing draw against Slovakia last night, the team’s manager refused to be too downhearted ahead of Tuesday’s make-or-break match with Russia.
Despite missing one or two late gilt-edged opportunities to win, Ireland were widely criticised for their performance, having been outplayed by Slovakia for long periods of the game.
Trapattoni, though, was determined to focus on the positive aspects of the performance, outlining how “our defence was very strong” and claiming that “two years ago, we could have lost this game”.
He was not overly concerned at Ireland’s failure to score, saying: “This is the first time we haven’t scored a goal.”
Nonetheless, he concedes that “in the first half, Slovakia were physically superior and had more possession,” adding that “we need to be more offensive” in future games.
Trapattoni pointed to the “two or three chances” Ireland missed to win the game, emphasising how “in these matches, there aren’t many chances to score”.
Consequently, the result has left Ireland in a difficult situation in Group B and arguably means the upcoming Russia clash represents a must-win game for the Republic.
So can Ireland achieve an unlikely win in Russia?
“Why not? It’s possible,” Trapattoni answers, in typically optimistic fashion. “If we recover our energy, we have a chance.”
Meanwhile, those calling for the inclusion of James McCarthy for Ireland’s next game are likely to be disappointed.
He explains: “We don’t need to change the defence or midfield. Our application is good. We need to be a little bit more incisive, but we have Duff, McGeady and Keane.”
He also refused to use the seeming lack of fitness displayed by both Kevin Doyle and Aiden McGeady as an excuse, saying:
“I was not disappointed by McGeady and Doyle. Hunt was a little bit fresher, but McGeady played well.”
The Italian was, however, left to rue the absence of Shane Long, admitting his side missed him from a tactical perspective as “they had big defenders, but they’re not very fast,” suggesting that Long’s pace could have exploited this deficiency.
So overall, how would Trapattoni summarise the game?
“It was not Manchester United versus Arsenal,” he notes, wryly referring to last Sunday’s 8-2 Premier League goal-fest.
No, indeed it wasn’t.