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Snared by the same Trap

IT'S almost as if Euro 2012 never happened. Giovanni Trapattoni climbed back into the saddle and with his first words of the new World Cup qualifying campaign killed any faint hopes there was that this is a man ready for change.

Not that anyone with half a brain ever thought that it would be any different, but it was still wearying and dispiriting to hear Trapattoni trot out the same old tired jokes, the same old tired references to days of yore and realise that football's return to the beautiful way has passed him by.

Either he is too lazy to try something different or he has no belief in Ireland's best footballers, but either way, he shouldn't be doing the job any more.

But he is going nowhere. One unfortunate result of the Irish fans' acclaimed rendition of the Fields of Athenry is that Trapattoni believes the fans were singing to him, not lamenting an opportunity lost.

Sure, there was the odd vocal celebration of Trapattoni in Poland but more at the start of the tournament than at the end and most football people who were there weren't singing much at all.

"AC Milan told me there is always a place there for me. They think I could be a teacher for all of the kids. In this moment, after this defeat in the Euros, I am more enthusiastic than ever to begin a new challenge," he said.

"It is a drug for me. Not a bad drug, it is life. I passed my week on holiday and I reviewed the games. I review many games, the performances, the goals.

"Usually, I don't say sure, because nothing is sure in football. But I have this purpose, I have this new challenge -- to show the Irish people what we have done in this four years.

"I wake and say I want to begin again, same team, same squad. Until a day before I thought we would do very well," he said and damned himself with his own words.

Despite the absolute reality that Ireland, playing a system drilled into them by Trapattoni over four years, were taken apart by Croatia, Spain and Italy, taken apart by Russia and Slovakia in qualifying and for a long stretch of the friendly against Hungary in Budapest, he's going to plough on regardless.

The only change of any consequence mentioned was the one alteration he must make for the Brazil 2014 qualification opener against Kazakhstan on September 7 because of Keith Andrews' suspension.

James McCarthy is now the man touted to make the difference in midfield but there wasn't even a hint that it has finally dawned on Trapattoni that the way he wants his players to play cannot, and will never be able to cope with a playmaker.

In fact, Trapattoni even suggested that the reason Wes Hoolohan will play no part against Serbia is that he is "the same" as McCarthy and presumably, not as good.

This is bizarre really. McCarthy has been poorly treated by Trapattoni for two years and now he's supposed to make all the difference.

Which he may well do, but with no effort on the part of the Ireland manager to acknowledge his potential or make him feel wanted. In fact, entirely the opposite until yesterday's squad announcement in Ballybofey.

There was no clarity about the situation of senior men Richard Dunne, Shay Given, Robbie Keane or Damien Duff, although Trapattoni seemed to suggest in that garbled way of his that all four, and indeed Stephen Hunt, will be back for the Kazakhstan game.

But then he confused the issue by saying that no player had a guarantee to be in that squad and that he will wait until he sees how his 'new' players will perform against Serbia before making up his mind.

"After Poland I spoke with them about this next opportunity, especially in this friendly game. I informed them in this situation, I wish to let you be quiet and I wish to try other players," he said.

"I clarify with the senior players, Richard Dunne, Shay Given, Damien Duff, Robbie Keane, I clarify that this is an opportunity, a friendly game and I will give the other players the opportunity to show us.

"We need them (senior players). They can be with us and help us with another campaign. One month ago they play the Euros, one month after, it doesn't make sense that they would disappear overnight.

"But there is no guarantee. We will watch the new players against Serbia and then we have a month to decide," said Trapattoni.