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Belgium boss Wilmots forced to dismiss talk of leaks and in-fighting on the eve of Ireland clash

‘I’m the man in charge — I make the decisions,’ insists the manager of Ireland’s latest Euro 2016 Group E opponents.

Wilmots watching on as Courtois trains.
Wilmots watching on as Courtois trains.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

- Ben Blake reports from Bordeaux

BELGIUM MANAGER MARC Wilmots has rubbished talk of disharmony in the camp ahead of their Euro 2016 group game against Ireland.

The Red Devils, who meet Martin O’Neill’s men in Bordeaux tomorrow afternoon (2pm Irish time), were beaten 2-0 by Italy in their opening fixture and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was heavily-critical of his own team’s tactics after the loss.

However, Wilmots rejected claims that the players questioned his style of play and reiterated that he has full control of the dressing room.

“Apparently the players have had their say on tactics in the training session,” the 47-year-old said during today’s pre-match press conference.

“Yesterday, the players trained, we changed the system and there were no discussions.

“We made one mistake (against Italy) and we conceded a goal so it’s normal to discuss that. I gave my opinion, the players did likewise on the field and then we continued.

It makes sense, it’s only normal at training. I’m the man in charge — I make the decisions.”

Wilmots added that he isn’t worried about such stories surfacing and insists that none of his players have been secretly talking to the media.

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“No, I’m not concerned about that,” he said. “It is part of the football circus. I don’t believe the players leaked any information.

“The best way to do so is to talk to the papers and managers do that as well. There is a lot of the game behind the scenes. It is not a problem for me.”

Thibaut Courtois Courtois says he made constructive criticism. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Sat alongside Wilmots at the top table was Belgium number one Courtois, who rolled back a little on his suggestions earlier in the week that they were “outclassed on all fronts – tactically, technically and organisationally” by the Azzurri.

“We’re all winners, you want to win a game and I was a little bit frustrated after the match,” said the Chelsea goalkeeper. “Perhaps we didn’t do what we need to do in that game, but we must learn the necessary lessons.

It was constructive criticism and we have worked on it as a team. We need a positive result tomorrow as a team.”

Courtois went on: “When we’re at our best level, people say we’re one of the best sides but when you lose a game suddenly you’re one of the worst. That’s football, it’s always like that but we know how to manage that and we are professionals.

“We want to win matches and we’re pretty relaxed about that. Occasionally, we are the best but we know all the attributes we have and we’re going to show that.”

Listen to The42′s Ben Blake on the 98FM Euro 2016 Daily podcast throughout the tournament 

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Ben Blake

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