The best and worst of Trap
Over his five years in charge, we saw the best and the worst of Giovanni Trapattoni. Here are some of the high and lowlights
THE BEST OF TRAP
After Steve Staunton’s disastrous tenure as Ireland boss, the excitement was tangible when Giovanni Trapattoni was appointed Republic of Ireland manager in March 2008. The fortunes of the Boys in Green had reached an embarrassing nadir with a 5-2 defeat to Cyprus in October 2006. However, the ability to attract one of the biggest names in world football management was a huge boost for soccer fans in the country. We weren’t one of the also-rans just yet.
THE PRESS CONFERENCES
Some of Trap’s press conferences were hilarious. Although his lack of mastery of the English language ultimately became a hindrance, some of his utterances – even with the guidance of translator Manuela Spinel – were the stuff of comedy gold. Memorable quotes include: “The cat is in the sack, but the sack is not closed, the cat is in it, but its open - and it’s a wild cat!". And his description of himself: “The general said it's an old man who isn't curious about the next news. I think I'm like a 20-year-old, with more experience." Our own personal favourite – his description of Kevin Doyle: “I love Doyle. As a player, not a man. I love women … without doubt.”
SOME OF THE RESULTS
Italy away (1-1). France away (1-1). Estonia away (0-4). Russia away (0-0). Only a fool would argue that we didn’t get some great results under Trap. We had some wonderful nights, especially away from home. Until last night, under Trap we didn’t lose a competitive away fixture.
QUALIFICATION FOR THE EUROS
While results on the pitch were nothing to write home about, the very fact that we qualified for the Euros in 2012 was a cause for celebration. The country’s economic problems were shoved to the side for the six month build up to the championships. We forget our woes in the way that only sport can help us. And when it came to June last year, thousands took to the highways of Poland to support the boys in green on their week long adventure. Okay, we were rubbish on the pitch but we had a ball off it.
THAT NIGHT IN PARIS
Stuttgart. Rome. Genoa. New York. Wembley. Ireland fans have had some extraordinary nights over the years. But few will match that one in Paris in 2009. Thierry Henry’s left hand was ultimately to stop us from progressing to the 2010 World Cup, the resilience, verve and sheer bloody mindedness of that Ireland team in refusing to give up after losing the first leg in Dublin gave the country a bit of national pride back. One to tell the grandkids about.
THE WORST OF TRAP
HIS REFUSAL TO CHANGE
Trap would argue that his defensively-minded and static system has given him success since he first became a coach of Milan in the Sixties. After all, he’s won virtually every available honour in the European club game. But it didn't cut it in later years. However, his refusal to change his formation and allow creative players the chance to express themselves was seen as one of his greatest failings.
Over the years, we’ve always prided ourselves on being hard to beat – certainly at home. So whatever world footballing superpower came to Dublin, we’d fancy ourselves to at least get a draw. Usually more. So when Germany came to Dublin last October, nobody was expecting the hammering they dished out to us. Although Germany were superb that night and would have cut most sides to shreds, Ireland put up one of the most listless performances ever witnessed by a home crowd. We were lucky to get away with six.
TREATING THE JOB AS A PART TIME AFFAIR
As has already been well documented elsewhere, Trap was one of the best paid European football international managers. He commanded an annual salary that would be the envy of many of his counterparts in the Premiership. However, for the first four years of his reign, Trap appeared to treat the job as if it was a part-time affair. He was rarely spotted at any games in England, preferring to watch Irish players on DVD. After the Germany result, his presence at games increased. But it was too little, too late
FALLOUTS WITH PLAYERS
Andy Reid. James McCarthy. Shay Given. Leon Best. Darron Gibson. Kevin Foley. Steven Reid. Marc Wilson. The list of players Trap fell out with or had rows with in public was as long as it was embarrassing – his man management skills seemed a little behind the times.
LOST IN TRANSLATION
By anyone’s standards, Trap was being paid a helluva lot of cash. Yes, his command of the English language came on over his five years in charge, he could still never be considered what you’d call fluent. This lack of fluency often led to a communication breakdown with the players. If he had been able to speak English as well as say Jose Mourinho, you suspect that he’d not have found himself in so many tight spots.