Whelan hopes Trap sticks with midfield changes
Updated: Monday, 12 Nov 2012 22:10
Glenn Whelan has pleaded with Republic of Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni not to abandon his midfield experiment.
The 28-year-old was a by-stander because of injury as the veteran Italian employed a central midfield trio in an attempt to shackle Germany at the Aviva Stadium last month, but saw his team collapse horribly to a 6-1 World Cup qualifier defeat.
However, having spent the summer chasing shadows as Croatia, Spain and Italy picked Ireland apart at the Euro 2012 finals in Poland and Ukraine, Whelan is hoping the plan will not be torn up.
Trapattoni has spoken warmly of Wigan's James McCarthy and Sunderland's David Meyler in recent weeks, and has finally answered the clamour to draft Wes Hoolahan into his squad, and that is music to the Stoke midfielder's ears.
He said: "When the manager was first brought in, the board's thinking was first and foremost to get us to a World Cup or to a Europeans, that's what everyone wanted.
"It was okay getting us there, it's then what you do afterwards, it's what you are going to do once you are there. That's something we are going to work on and try to improve.
"He has fiddled about a little bit with systems and things like that, and that's helped because since I have been involved and been playing, I don't think I have played against another national team which has played 4-4-2.
"If it's me or Keith Andrews or Darron Gibson or Keith Fahey who has been in there, we have been over-powered. We are playing three against two and we don't get the credit that we deserve, really.
"We have taken a lot of stick, but what can we do? We are told by the manager to go out and play like this. It's not for me then to go, 'Hang on a minute, I'm not'.
"He's the manager, he's the boss and you do what he says because if you don't, you are not going to get picked."
If the speculation is to be believed, Trapattoni came perilously close to losing his job in the wake of the Germany debacle with the Football Association of Ireland issuing a vote of confidence 24 hours after a 4-1 victory in the Faroe Islands repaired a modicum of the damage, but by no means all of it.
However, the support from the dressing room was unequivocal in the immediate aftermath of the win in Torshavn, and Whelan insists it remains so.
He said: "At the time, he had to take it [the criticism] because the results weren't right.
"We as players take the criticism on the chin. When papers and journalists are telling you you are great one week, you can't then not take it the next week when they are telling you you are not.
"The FAI have now backed him, so hopefully they will just let him get on with it and hopefully qualify for the World Cup because that's why we are here and that's what we want.
"The disappointment of the Euros is still hanging around a little bit and I think confidence with the lads has been dented massively, so it's about getting over that first and foremost."
While Whelan may have escaped the mental scars of the drubbing by Germany, he admits those remaining from the summer are still fresh.
He revealed his family tried to protect him from some of the personal criticism, but even that is tough.
He said: "They wouldn't talk to me, they would try to hide it away from me. But I have got skin like a rhino at this stage.
"But you have to take the good with the bad. After the Euros me personally, I felt a little bit embarrassed when I came back.
"I was hard to be around, not only because of the pressure of being to a tournament for the first time in 10 years.
"I think it's the letting down the family and letting down friends and people who have supported you. That's what it felt like to me and it was hard to take."
Trapattoni is likely to take a look at several of his fringe players on Wednesday evening with skipper Robbie Keane rested and Aiden McGeady and Keith Fahey having being joined on the casualty list by Jon Walters, who has a knee problem.