Poznan, Poland – Giovanni Trapattoni hit back angrily at Roy Keane after the Manchester United legend's latest criticism of Ireland.
Keane wrote in his column for a British tabloid that he would change the entire starting XI for the final Group C match against Italy here on Monday.
The former Ireland captain – who infamously walked out on the team in their pre-2002 World Cup finals training camp complaining of a lack of professionalism about their preparations – and now popular TV pundit in Britain has been highly vocal in his criticisms of his homeland's poor showings at the Euros.
And he said that Ireland would be better off shipping out the old guard and bringing in some fresh new blood with a view to the future.
But Trapattoni was having none of it.
“I have already said that Keane was a great player and had great results but I don't know if he has achieved the same results as a coach and manager.
“I can ask him why but an intelligent man can understand why,” said Trapattoni diplomatically in English before turning to his countrymen and firing off an angry broadside in Italian.
“What the **** has he won (as a coach), he's done nothing!”
Keane had been brutal in his assessment of the players' performances so far, not just in this tournament but throughout the season with their clubs.
“I can't think of one player who has had a good season at club level,” he said in his column.
“Where is their ambition? Where is their hunger and drive to achieve something?
“Their club form is poor and no player has come out of the two games with any credit. Not one.
“That's why there should be 11 changes against Italy tomorrow.”
Perhaps defiantly, Trapattoni proclaimed he would stick to exactly the same line-up that has started their previous two matches.
But although he defended his players against Keane's attack, Trapattoni did say he wants greater commitment and an improved attitude.
“After two defeats in two matches, in which we conceded a goal in the first minutes, it's important and necessary to return to the same attitude and commitment as we had in the qualifiers,” he said.
“It's important to start 100 percent concentrated and to avoid this situation (conceding) in the first minutes.”
As Ireland are already out of the Euros, Trapattoni said they have only pride to play for but he insisted he has faith in his current group.
“Against Italy we will play for our honour and the honour of the nation which supporters ask for all the time,” he said.
“We all have a duty to do the best we can because obviously we don't want to go home with another defeat.
“I will play the same team that took us to qualification, out of respect for my players.”
The 73-year-old has not worked in his homeland for eight years, since leaving the Italy job after his failure to get the Azzurri beyond the group stages at Euro 2004.
And he said there was no bitterness in never having gone back, insisting it was his choice.
“I had many good results in Italy as I did abroad, I had them in four different countries,” he said.
“That I haven't gone back has been my choice because I had some interesting offers.
“But as I said with that famous phrase: my time in Italy is in the past, they want everything right now.
“I prefer to stay where my professionalism is appreciated.” – Sapa-AFP