Saturday, 15 September 2012

Trap’s hiding behind a herd of elephants!

(Better late than never -  this appeared in last week's paper, but I've been away on my hols, so apologies if it seems out of date. Normal service resumes on Monday.)

Who knows how Ireland will fare in their World Cup warm-ups, but whenever I see Giovanni Trappatoni, I laugh privately inside. I can’t help it, and it’s not just a little giggle. It’s a bloomin’ great big guffaw.

What right do I have to mock the man? Well, the Irish national team’s manager certainly had a record worthy of respect, before he took the Irish job. He’d won all the major UEFA competitions together with league championships in four different countries, but the first time I heard about him was back in June 2007, when he was manager of Red Bull Salzburg.

I’m apologising in advance here, my colyoomistas, because I’m brazenly about to publish a clip from a colyoom some of you read in this noble rag five years ago.

Back then I played it just for laughs, but today you’re reading it because we now know well who he is. As your manager, he’s been extracting the urine from your country for years.

Anyway, first the laughs. Here’s the clip from the June 2007 colyoom:

‘ Giovanni Trapattoni, who I strongly suspect might be Italian, is the coach of Austrian soccer champions, Red Bull Salzburg.
Showing a poetic talent that, despite his managerial achievements, suggests he might well have followed the wrong career, Snr. Trapattoni let rip at a bunch of German journalists who were criticising his fitness coach, Fausto Rossi.
“Our training is strong. Is modern. Training wins also. I have 21 trophies. There is blah, blah, blah from you. Fools write who know nothing. Blah, blah, blah, blah. I can understand people paying. No problema! Let whistle, is right. Have lost. But run 90 minutes! I am a professional when it comes to psychology. We train, make fitness. You people always make qua, qua, qua! Shit fools!” ’

Doubtless the words of a genius, but is he somebody you’d want as your boss? Not your football team’s boss, but actually yours?

Would you like to go into a meeting on a Monday morning and be told

“We must for to go biff sales and then bang bang very physical on budget deficit it will be.”
It’s neither politically correct nor internationalist of me to suggest that working for someone who doesn’t speak your language might not be the best scenario, but when the leader of your pack is meant somehow to transpose charisma through an interpreter, it’s like expecting your rasher to go “Oink!”

Yes, major global negotiations are successfully completed through interpreters, but when it’s just you and your boss and he doesn’t understand what you’re saying and you haven’t a clue what he’s on about, it just doesn’t work.

Footballers need to want to play for their managers. They need to be inspired and enthused by them.

A lack of common language was a big part of the problem with Fabio Capello’s England team, but while it was the elephant in the room in his case, Trappatoni’s stewardship of Ireland has a herd of elephants trampling throughout the building.

The man doesn’t go to games. He has teams of people who go to games for him and he watches videos, but Fabio went to games, and England’s new manager Roy Hodgson has announced plans to see a game in every Premier League ground at least once this season. 
Hodgson already has long-standing relationships with many of the Premiership’s other managers, has known all the players for years and in his own way, speaks their language.

Obviously Trappatoni knows his stuff, but at this stage of his career you have to forgive him for taking the big paycheque and sitting back. I know there are legions of Irish fans out there protesting
“But he took us to the Euros, and only Thierry’s fingers stopped us from winning the World Cup and and and...”

Cop on lads. The spirit of Roy Keane is upon me. Stop thinking so little of yourselves. Stop expecting to lose and stop being satisfied with making it to a tournament every ten years.

There are loads of excellent Irish players in the Premiership, Championship and SPL. Having closely watched the evolution of your Boys in Green for 20 years, I’ve enjoyed the journey from Saint Jack’s “You’ll Never Beat The Irish’ boys, solid at the back and capable of miracles like beating the Italians in a World Cup, through Mick’s more attacking formula, with Duffer’s speed and width, Dunny’s defensive heroics and Robbie’s boyish Lineker love of toe-poking goals.

For a while Ireland looked less frightened of losing and had more belief in winning, but now, after Brian and Stan and Trap it’s all gone wrong.

Never thought I’d say this, but Keano for Ireland. Raise the bar.

Everything I’ve read of Trappatoni over the years concerns his on-off relationship with Irish players. Apparently, his preferred method of dumping players is by text message. I’d say he was like a teenage girlfriend, but that’d be unfair to teenage girlfriends. He’ll fall out with you over the most infantile matter, and then say “If you call I might pick up but I’m not calling you.”

So the talent that might have been Stephen Ireland goes missing, alongside Hunt and Hoolahan and all the many others who have been in or out of favour, and still he doesn’t go to games.

To judge footballers you have to see them play. It’s not difficult, even when you have to suffer the ignominy of having your annual salary cut from €1.7m a year to a measly €1.5m.

Awwww. Poor diddums. Somehow he even managed to wring some positive PR out of that gesture, saying he understood the state of the nation.

For that dosh you have to recognise the faces of and be at least speaking to all your best players. Trappatoni is having a laugh and the sooner it’s dealt with the better. There’s a tremendous team of Irish Internationals out there. It’s just such a shame they don’t play for Ireland.

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