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Diane Caldwell with Vera Pauw earlier this year. Ryan Byrne/INPHO

'The results and performances that we got were in spite of Vera being our coach'

Diane Caldwell has hit out at the management of Pauw following her departure.

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND international Diane Caldwell has hit out at the management of Vera Pauw following her recent departure.

“The results and performances that we got were in spite of Vera being our coach,” the experienced defender told a press conference at FAI HQ this afternoon as the squad assembled for their upcoming double-header against Northern Ireland and Hungary.

Caldwell also revealed that herself and captain Katie McCabe addressed issues with former FAI High Performance Director Ruud Dokter after the European Championship qualifying campaign in 2020, which “fell on deaf ears”.

Caldwell, who won her 97th cap after one brief appearance at the World Cup, was the second player to break their silence on the matter. McCabe addressed the media just beforehand. 

Eileen Gleeson is currently in charge on an interim basis after the FAI’s decision not to renew Pauw’s contract in the wake of this summer’s World Cup.

“We just need to raise our standards in all levels of performance on and off the pitch,” Caldwell said as she looked towards the next chapter. “Expectations of ourselves and expectations of staff.

“Increase the levels of professionalism across the board, in every facet, be it match analysis, opponent analysis, performance, nutrition, recovery, everything across the board to get the best out of us as players and a group on the pitch.”

diane-caldwell Caldwell speaking at a press conference this afternoon. Tom Maher / INPHO Tom Maher / INPHO / INPHO

Asked whether she felt that professionalism was lacking under Pauw, Caldwell responded: ”I think there are many areas, yeah, that could have been better under her tenure.”

“The same performance factors I just mentioned,” she elaborated. “I think preparation for games could have been better, physical preparation, opponent analysis, match tactics, in-game match tactics, changes, systems of play.”

The 35-year-old added: “I think a group of players that were destined for success came together at the right time. 

“From my position as a pretty experienced player I don’t think it was up to the standard I expected at international level. I think the results and performances that we got were in spite of Vera being our coach.”

Caldwell, who currently plays her club football with FC Zurich in Switzerland, said issues were addressed with Pauw herself. “We approached her many times about professionalising many aspects, but it was hard to get change.

“She obviously made myself a part of the leadership that she created, along with a few other players, so she gave us that position to use our voice and try to talk on behalf of the team.

“I think we tried to do that as a group the best that we could but obviously, at the end of the day, she is the coach and she controls everything. You only can say and try to change so much.”

Asked about the notion the Dutchwoman lost the dressing room, Caldwell continued: “I think it was just an accumulation of everything over a long time.

“After the European campaign myself and Katie also reflected with Ruud Dokter at the time about certain aspects that need to be improved and changed but ultimately that fell on deaf ears and she got a contract extension.”

Caldwell understands the pressure on the players to perform as a new campaign and the post-Pauw era begins.

“I think we’re used to that as a group. We put ourselves under tremendous scrutiny by threatening strike action [in 2017] and I think that was the most pressure we’ve ever felt as a group because it was us out on the pitch, we had to go out there and back it up, everything we were asking for,” Caldwell said. 

“I think it’s a little bit like that and I think we’ve grown as well with that pressure, since that period of time, and now we’ve backed it up with results. We’ve shown that we can contest with the best, and that gives you an inner belief and an ability to deal with those expectations and pressures.”

“People not in the know will find it hard to understand and see it from our point of view,” she added, “but knowledge is your wealth.

“If you don’t know these things I think it’s probably wrong to speak out and to give your opinion on things that maybe you don’t have a full understanding of.

“I’m very happy there’s change. It gives us all a new lease of life, a new beginning.”

Written by Emma Duffy and posted on

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