herald

Monday 11 December 2017

Trap message incoherent as inquisition commences

Inability of Irish manager to explain our Euro 2012 flop totally unacceptable

ON Monday night after Ireland's Euro 2012 run came to a sad and chaotic conclusion in the Municipal Stadium, Poznan, Giovanni Trapattoni told us he would explain everything the following morning.

He turned up at the media hotel and gave his final set-piece of the summer. We sat back and waited for the clarification he promised about many of the glaring inconsistencies which have sprung up around himself, his players and his system in Poland.

And we waited. He showed up on time but if anything, this was the most confusing press conference during the entire four weeks on the road.

The future of the high end of the football industry is important for many reasons.

The tide of financial woe continued to climb to new levels of grimness while Trapattoni, his team, a large media pack and the supporters shuttled between Gdansk and Poznan living in the bubble of the second biggest tournament on the planet.

Austerity is biting deep in all areas of society and football has not escaped. Across the country, funding is squeezed on a daily basis and the international team has long been the engine which drives many wheels.

So clarification from Trapattoni was both necessary and welcome because many, many people in Ireland earn a living from the game.

The FAI is relying on full houses at Lansdowne Road to meet debts and that was probably the biggest reason why Trapattoni had to be clear and precise about what he intends to do.

But he wasn't and that is no longer acceptable for a man paid such a huge amount of money to do so little work.

His salary pays for expertise and up until the start of Euro 2012, his reputation. It also pays for results.

Trapattoni gave us a stream of consciousness which was not coherent and failed to address straight-forward questions.

Like this one: "Did your players fail, did your system fail and have you considered resignation?"







MICROPHONE

And the answer or as close as this writer could get to it, given the absence of a microphone in the hastily jury-rigged conference room was this.

"In the past, if you remember, I achieve the results with many, many systems. Also, I choose the players for the system. I'm not sure because many players, the past for us, other they try playing, this, playing that, playing the other.

"We build a team with the system, we have an idea about the system. Maybe in August, we will follow the other. It's not the players, it is the players give us possibility to ... We have the quality. They have habit for this system. We have to try. We can see immediately."

Capiche? Nope, me neither but after throwing a few bones and reaching for the weegie board, this distillation seemed to just about cover it.

"I've used a lot of systems over the years and the idea I have for something new revolves around having the players to do it. The players are indoctrinated in the current system and I'm not sure we can change but we have to try and I'll tell you more after we play Serbia in August."

Or something like that. Or maybe he meant something else entirely. We all try our best. Manuela Spinelli tries her best. The Apres Match version of a Trapattoni press conference is scarily accurate.

But an industry that generates serious money must have something more than Trapattoni's thoughts as filtered through the mind of his interpreter and a reporter or any spirits who might be in the room. Are you out there Roy? One knock for yes, two for no.

The fact that it is drearily inconvenient and tedious for reporters to go through this routine every time we see him is neither here nor there but as a conduit to the fans, they should be able to understand what the manager is saying all the time.

We all deserve to know what he means in the clearest possible terms and the usual mixture of slapstick, grandstanding and table-thumping doesn't achieve that goal.

"This is a table," he shouted and whacked the desk in front of him.

Interpretation: "My system is what I know, the players know and it's something solid."

But I can't stand over that being right.

You may have noticed that he never actually answered the bit about resignation. He just wore us down until our fingers stopped working and we listened slack-jawed to the flow of disconnected thoughts and wondered would we make our flight home.

After digging through the debris, the following can be taken as reasonably reliable.

Not as many senior men will walk this summer and he has spoken with Richard Dunne, Shay Given and Damien Duff. He was non-committal about Robbie Keane.

He may or may not try something new in August in Belgrade depending on the players he can round up in the meantime.

He will stay loyal to the players who qualified and presumably, that means the 23 who travelled to Poland.

And then the kicker: "It's not loyalty, it's respect because they helped us to achieve qualification and we must give them the honour of playing.

"You are not sure that if you make changes, the result will be any different. It's 50-50. When you are sure, you can change, but only after the 90 minutes can you be sure that the change is good.

"Until now it has been good, and I can't just turn the page and forget about it. It's not professional, it is not correct."

It is very clear from these words he has no real belief Ireland can play another way or he can find the players to do it.

In other words, the most likely scenario in August is that he will do nothing because that is his track record.

In Paris, we wondered had this man and his players, mostly his players, found their mojo but he reverted to type and if anything, turned his vice-like grip on their minds up a notch.

He constantly long-fingered the introduction of James McCarthy and Séamus Coleman to the squad and managed to turn Darron Gibson's often frowning face into a perpetual grimace.

Trapattoni appeared wilful and even petulant when a case was made for any player, particularly James McClean.

We cannot afford these foibles any more. Euro 2012 was a humiliation for football people all over Ireland who travelled in numbers to Poland but were matched and probably outnumbered by lads and lassies on the lash and the corporate jolly brigade.

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