Sinking feeling as Trap can only see green
GIOVANNI Trapattoni operates simultaneously in three different realities. Kit him out with a Tardis and he could give Dr Who a run for his money.
The first and prime reality is his own and is centred around a mountain of self-belief on which he bases all of his decisions. Nobody is allowed to impinge in any meaningful way on it. He is infallible.
The second is the one he spins for onlookers like pundits, journalists and football fans. In this persona, he says pretty much anything he wants, U-turns, blusters and generally acts the clown.
The final reality is the real Trapattoni and we have seen very little of that since he came among us.
Does he like fish? Can he use a three iron? Has he ever listened to The Doors? Who knows?
His wife, obviously. Yesterday, in the midst of a fog of hints, paradoxes and politics surrounding his final Euro 2012 squad selection, we learned that he would never take a cruise.
“She want me to, many times she ask but I say no ... never!”
Trap took to the sea to explain how his word must be law and that no matter how much popular sentiment favours some new blood to shake up a formula which delivered qualification – but only by the skin of Richard Dunne's considerable frame – he must remain true to his task.
“The captain steers a course and it must be straight,” said Trap and the temptation to throw out one liners about cruise ships and Italian captains became too much. “Never a cruise,” he said and the room dissolved into guffaws and giggles.
It was a good-humoured review of the Czech game but with an edge.
Trapattoni was taken to task for telling the nation for four months that he would give James McCarthy a chance to do something more than listen to wise words but not delivering on his promise.
His reply was a poor enough justification for his actions at Lansdowne Road but did reveal just how wedded to Paul Green he has become.
“I'm not going to put a player like |this on if the team is already having trouble. I will do anything I can to ease them into the game,” he said, claiming that he was acting in McCarthy's best interests by sending a grafter like Green onto the pitch instead of him.
Is Green a better prospect than McCarthy?
“Paul Green has other qualities,” and with that, the unheralded and unsuitable Derby County midfielder
was catapulted firmly into the running for a place in the squad.
It is ridiculous to persist with the notion that McCarthy needs to be protected from the big, bad world and is too young to take on the responsibility of senior international football when he has been running football teams from midfield for most of his career.
He may be young but he has been playing at a high level for a long time and age was never a bar to him before this.
When Trapattoni talked him up over a series of press conferences, it seemed that he had got over his initial reticence and was now ready to let McCarthy have a go.
Instead, there is a distinct possibility that if McCarthy does lose out in June, it will be to Paul Green.
“It will be difficult for us to choose. There are two or three who deserve |to come with us and they play in |the same position. The preference is experience.”
Green has neither the quality nor the experience but Trapattoni likes him and that might be enough |even if it would leave the rest of us scratching our heads.
It is difficult to understand how a man soaked in football and as keen a judge of a player as any could put Green and McCarthy side by side and pick the Championship player.
Perhaps John Giles’ suggestion that even Pelé would struggle to make it into Trapattoni's Euro 2012 squad if he rolled up with a green jersey, a passport and a cloned body, was painfully accurate. Never mind the player. It's all about the system.
But there is a greater issue at stake here. Trapattoni is being paid an outrageous amount of money and he has a duty to leave a legacy behind when he leaves us.
But on the evidence so far, he has no interest in our young players and will kick responsibility for them down the road while claiming all the while that he has their best interests at heart.
Trapattoni offered Ireland's FIFA and UEFA ranking as another important reason why he gave James McClean a patronising pat on the head but left McCarthy and Coleman on the bench.
Sure, the ranking is important but is that all Trap wants to be remembered for in Ireland when his time is done?
What damage will be done to this new generation of talented Irish players by a hidebound Italian who |in his heart of hearts doesn't believe that the best we have to offer, |young and experienced alike, are up to much.