herald

Sunday 17 December 2017

Game Is up for Trap

Italian has been great servant but time has come for him to do everyone a favour and quit

SO how was it for you Giovanni? Did Euro 2012 live up to your expectations? Will you now impose your iron discipline and turgid system on the next generation?

Best for all concerned if you retire gracefully and let the FAI and the rest of us get on with some football.

Last night put the tin hat on an awful Euro 2012. The fans again earned praise but that's not what Ireland went to Poland for and in that, Roy Keane was 100pc right.

In any other country, the coach would get the bullet without any ceremony in such circumstances but the FAI committed to another two years on the back of qualification for Euro 2012 and it would seem as if we are stuck with him.

The last time the FAI handed out such a deal was in 2002 and it was a mistake. Even Mick McCarthy admitted as much in a column yesterday when he said that the worst thing he did after Saipan was to hang in there and try to move past Roy Keane and all of that.

This was the Mick McCarthy who managed to bring his team to a high performance pitch after an enormous psychological upheaval and came within an ace of the World Cup quarter-finals.

Yet he could not rise above the decision he made in the Far East and paid for it when he tried to keep the show on the road for the Euro 2004 qualifying campaign.

The atmosphere was too sour for him to endure and then came a 4-2 battering in Moscow and that, effectively was that.

This time, Trapattoni told us the preparation was perfect and that his players were ready. It wasn't and they were most certainly not ready. The opposite, in fact.

Trapattoni, who is now the equal worst manager of all time in the European Championships, didn't manage to bag a single point and abandoned his precious system in all three games against Croatia, Spain and Italy in exchange for chaos and confusion.

This is the manager who told us his players understood the system so well that they could play with their eyes shut.

And this is the manager who knew so little about the players he has been coaching for four years that he was unable to accurately say how many of them were playing Premier League football and how many were playing in the Championship.

This is the man who doesn't feel it is necessary to go and see his players in the flesh unless he's flying in and flying out for a promotional gig and takes in a game in England almost by accident.



CRASS

This is the manager who described the Irish training camp in Montecatini as a 'holiday' yet changed his mind when the players rebelled and told him they had done enough work.

Some described the experience as harder than pre-season and it took a throwaway comment from Aiden McGeady to cut the legs from under Trapattoni's frivolous remarks.

We thought we had consistency and a manager who knew how to win and for that, we buried our misapprehensions about the way he sent Andy Reid to purgatory, used the loud hailer to end Stephen Reid's international career and tried to browbeat James McCarthy into a statement of loyalty which was both unnecessary and crass.

But we went along with it because the results brought points until an epic night in Paris when it looked as if his system had morphed into something wonderful.

As soon as he could, he reasserted the primacy of his system and the bright and flowing football played against the French was buried under new layers of conservatism and negativity. It all came home to roost in Poland and the FAI now has a manager who has little credibility but a lot of cash due to him.

Last night, Ireland put in a shift against Italy and gave what we expect from men in green shirts. Honest endeavour and great spirit kept us alive in a game run by Andrea Pirlo.

He's a mean-spirited man who thinks nothing of conning a referee but he has magic in his feet and like Luka Modric, Andre Iniesta and Xabi Alonso before him, he had Trapattoni's number before the game started.

The sad part of all of this is that it is Shay Given, a fantastic servant to Ireland, who must be held responsible for at least of some of Ireland's mistakes and also a great-hearted man like Richard Dunne who was unable to marshal his defence for set-pieces and finished all three games looking beaten and frustrated.



BLAMED

Trapattoni didn't hesitate to fillet his senior players when he blamed them for the absence of leadership on the pitch against Croatia and Spain but he made sure he chose his words a bit more carefully and doled out praise instead last night.

But even if there was more bite against Italy, there wasn't a great deal of difference between the performance in this game and the previous two.

All three ended in chaos. All three ended with Trapattoni's 'balance' in flithers and Robbie Keane still on the pitch when it was clear from the first half-hour against Slaven Bilic's team that Ireland's skipper was flat-footed and not fully fit.

Kevin Doyle paid the price for that in absolutely disgraceful circumstances and once again last night, he was sacrificed to keep Keane on the pitch. Madness.

It has been a remarkable four years, underpinned by the dreariness of Trapattoni's football but filled with great theatre and incident.

He is never less than box office but even great Hollywood stars begin to look a tad frayed around the edges on the big screen as the years go by and the big parts shift to younger blood.

Trapattoni has done Ireland a service and been remarkably well-paid for it. His time is done and he should do everyone a favour and go quietly.

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