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Battle-scarred Whelan calls for change from 'Trap'
Published : 18 Jun 2012 04:17:05
Glenn Whelan has spoken for the first time of the frustration Ireland's players feel playing in Giovanni Trapattoni's rigid formation.
The 4-4-2 system has been key to Trapattoni's transformation of an international team that failed to challenge in three qualifying campaigns before his arrival, to one that made it to two playoffs under his leadership.
But, it has failed horribly at the European Championship, where Ireland have lost their opening two games, with an aggregate score of 7-1.
Prior to the tournament, Ireland had conceded in just three of 14 games, and were praised for their defensive solidity, based on two hard working banks of four, with Robbie Keane and Kevin Doyle leading the defensive effort from the front.
However, when faced with a talented three or five-man midfield, as they did on occasion in their qualifying group - particularly against Dick Advocaat's Russia, they struggled in an outnumbered central area.
The manager frequently acknowledged the issue but, bizarrely, failed to alter his system.
This week things came to a head as first Croatia, and then Spain, ripped through the Irish midfield, leaving Whelan and centre midfield partner Keith Andrews exposed, and chasing shadows for 90 minutes.
This is not what they dreamed of at a major tournament and Whelan made clear he would like to see a change of tactics.
"Yeah I think so," said the 28-year-old Stoke City battler.
"Me and Keith have taken a hammering from all over but I don't think we have played against a 4-4-2 since I've been in the team so that hasn't been easy.
"The manager has gone with a system that has got us here and whatever he thinks best for the team then he will do it and you have to get on with it.
"But it's been me and Keith as the two in there, it has been difficult.
"I can't remember the last international team we have faced that played 4-4-2.
"A lot of teams nowadays are playing five in midfield or three up top.
"But it's how we deal with it and we haven't done that in the last two games.
"It's easy to say now as an excuse that it's systems but it's the one that got us here."
Ireland are certain to not face a 4-4-2 when they line up against Italy in Poznan on Monday, but once more Trapattoni has named the same four man midfield he did for the two opening games.
Whelan had expected changes.
"There are lads who have been here for a month and worked very hard and not got any minutes, it might be a chance for them, but it's down to the manager to decide what he wants to do," he said.
"We've had two games in four days, a lot of work has gone in and it might have taken it out of the legs.
"It's been a long season and when results don't go your way it feels harder but we have 23 lads desperate to play and whatever team goes out will be desperate to get a result."