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Tuesday 21 November 2017

Start praying he stays

Trap’s work with Ireland is now bearing fruit and we must hope he’s not snared by a chasing club

THERE is still a great sense of novelty about the fact that Giovanni Trapattoni keeps us well informed about the steady stream of offers he gets from all sorts of people to manage football teams. For one, the Republic of Ireland senior team has never really had a manager who caused prospective employers to form a queue.

Brian Kerr and Steve Staunton all found new and gainful employment difficult to come by when the left the Irish senior job. The FAI offered Mick McCarthy a bonus to stay on after the World Cup finals in 2002, presumably to see off any outside interest, but within six months of Japan/Korea he was out of a job and hunting for work in England.

Trapattoni is something entirely different, though, and so confident in his status and reputation that he thinks nothing of tossing the odd gem of information about his latest string of suitors.

On Saturday, before waving goodbye until August and returning to the warm glow of his DVD player, he told us that Celtic, unnamed Premier League clubs and a few from Serie A have been on the blower. Quite what Trapattoni is trying to achieve by revealing details of his personal business, which most managers would usually keep tight to their chests, is hard to fathom.

Maybe he's just keeping his name out there; maybe he's just answering questions in an open way; maybe it's just a bit of harmless bravado.

Whatever it is, it must be difficult for the FAI to listen to his latest comments without feeling a chill in the nethers.

Trapattoni has become massively important to Abbotstown and it cannot have been easy to watch him throw in a headline hand grenade before boarding a flight back to Milan for the summer.

Nobody can now seriously doubt the progress made by Trapattoni with the Irish team and there is real optimism surrounding the Euro 2012 campaign.

Wins over Paraguay and Algeria taught us that the Trapattoni formula is working better than before and that he will continue to search out and rapidly promote any player he feels can do better than the ones he already has.

The really good news is that fresh and exciting options have emerged in significant numbers this season to justify raised expectations for the journey ahead.

Trapattoni has found players to promote and, by his own count, has added nigh on a dozen to the core of 13 he identified when he took the Irish job two years ago.

SELF-BELIEF

In his final press conference on Saturday, Trapattoni spoke in confident terms about what might be achieved with the group he has at his disposal and, as always, he hammered home his message about self-belief, small details and big hearts. It is becoming easier and easier to believe him and harder and harder to imagine the Irish team without him.

Asked why he chose to stay with Ireland given the number of alternatives which are apparently available to him, he was happy to explain his thinking.

“In Italy you change in one, two or three years. You look at other options because what you bring to a team is finished and it's better to go somewhere else.

“This team (Ireland), good professionals with a good mentality and with a little bit more experience maybe today we would be in South Africa.

“We have space for improvement with this team. The other offers, I said thank you but I turned them down. One or two months ago, I could have made a different choice but I know this is a good team so I stay.”

The Celtic interest is particularly intriguing given the emerging notion that Neil Lennon would be happy to accept a mentor to help shoulder some of the load and the obvious access Dermot Desmond would have if he chose to pursue Trapattoni as a Parkhead father figure.

“It was not the Celtic chairman, but someone close to him, close to the club, a former player, who approached me three to four months ago and asked would I be interested in a position. But I say no, I am with Ireland. I also had two or three teams ask me in Italy, and two English teams.

“I told them all the same answer – that I am with Ireland.” For that we must be grateful.

Trapattoni still has plenty of work to do with the Irish squad but the sense that he will improve the team further is real.

“We have no Messi, no creative solutions like that, but we have a good team which plays good football and we also have good technique.

“My worry is that we would have one or two injuries. We grow and we are confident. We must continue this way.”

PERSONALITY

“This two weeks, we found two new options and gave them confidence and trust for their future. The result is always important but in this situation normally I don't look at the result. The first interest is how good this player is and that they show us their personality.

“We have trust about them because you saw these players play like seniors. Paul Green and Greg Cunningham were like Whelan or Andrews two years ago.

This is very positive because I hope they can play more games with their clubs. They can grow with continuity.

“Two years ago we had a squad of 13/14 now we have 20, 22, 23 and in the future we will monitor because we need another striker – in this position we need other options.

“In the team there is competition, they give it all and they make competition between themselves.

“I say to the players, you must show me that you want to play – this kind of competition is good, like Mourinho did in Inter.”

“This group, we could have come out of the pool stages – we could have aspired to that, we could have made it,” said Trap.

Two and a half months separate us from the next ration of the maestro at work and, in that time, many countries and clubs will sack and hire new managers.

Trapattoni will be linked with any number of jobs and nerves will jangle each time he is.

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