This observer can’t be (and definitely isn’t) the first person to wonder ”What are you at Trap?” during Giovanni Trapatoni’s three year reign as Republic of Ireland national football team manager.
Having announced today’s 24 man squad for the end of month (29th February) friendly against the Czech Republic; the most glaring question is: ”Why oh why are you not trying some players who are in splendid form in the FA Premier League? Most glaringly among those deserving a call-up is Sunderland’s James McClean who has looked very much the part in his four months in England’s top division.”
The most obvious answer to the above is that Trapatonni has stated that he is likely to stick with the players who secured qualification for Euro 2012 and that emerging players are almost certain not to be given a chance at the European Championships. Said Trapatonni at today’s press conference announcing his squad: ”We have four or five other names because we have no time to change. One is McClean. I spoke with him and I said; ’Congratulations, James, I wish you to come with us’. We now have insurance that he can play with us, and this is important. He said; ’When you decide, call me up’. I told him 100% he will be with us for the future. Now, I’m looking to consolidate.”
Whilst some will admire Trapatonni’s perceived “loyalty,” this observer feels that the logical stance from Trapatonni would be to select players based on their current form and to state that no player can play his way into the (Euro) squad four months before the event is simply absurd.
Trapatonni’s actions today (omitting a player like James McLean from his squad) leads one to think of the many other scenarios where the Italian has shown a laziness at best and dis-interest at worst in his position as Ireland national team manager. The qualification campaign was littered with numerous petty public rows with players that should have stayed in house. The fact that Il Gaffer attends maybe two club games a year and thinks that tracking players by watching dvd’s from his Milan home is sufficient, is quite frankly daft. That he still does not have a rudimentary grasp of the English language is something which would be funny were it not so ridiculous. Whilst he has the side more organised than under his predecessor (Steve Staunton); almost any manager would have been capable of doing that.
There are those who view Trapatonni as the “saviour” of Irish football, this observer views him as little more than a geriatric chancer happy to cash in on an easy pension from the FAI and Gerry O’Brien. The days of 4-4-2 and a rigid “put under pressure” system, with no Plan’B’ is not the way forward any more for international football. Whilst Trapatonni was once a great manager, he is no longer that. I recall a packed Press Room applauding Trapatonni immediately after Ireland secured qualification for Euro 2012 with victory over Estonia. I wondered at the time; ‘Why?’ and I still do. Yes, we qualified for a major tournament for the first time in 10 years but what top tier nation did we beat along the way? None is the answer. Surely Trap’s Ireland will be found out in June when we face a few of the leading nations in European football.