Wednesday 7 December 2016

Trapattoni's absent-minded approach limits his options

Published 27/02/2011 | 05:00

The message was clear from Wolves midfielder Jamie O'Hara: "If I get the phone call, it's something I'd look at". It appears the pool of players from which the Ireland manager can select may be about to increase. The worrying thing is that it seems to be dependent on a call from Trapattoni. Hardly cause for great optimism just yet.

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Whether or not he sees Jamie O'Hara in his immediate plans, it is Trapattoni's responsibility to make contact with the player and discuss it further. His comments last week didn't clarify the situation once and for all, but gave more than enough reason for the manager to follow it up.

This is not club management. There is no cheque book available to entice players to join the squad. Only a tiny number of players are eligible, and of those, very few are Premier League regulars. We are not good enough to turn our noses up at the likes of O'Hara, nor should the manager even consider it.

However, given his handling of almost every issue which requires diplomacy, patience or interpersonal skills of any kind, the signs don't appear to be all that good.

The news of Shay Given's absence until the summer is a huge blow. For the Macedonia game, Ireland will most likely be without Robbie Keane also, which will make the job more difficult. Trapattoni's approach seems to make his job more difficult by the week. He has a month to prepare and it is critical the time is spent well.

There is little way of knowing what he will do in the weeks ahead, but I'll stick my neck out here and hazard a guess. I imagine he will do as he has always done. That involves going to no matches and contacting no players. He will assess the form of the squad by watching DVDs of their games, and, in doing so, limiting his view to wherever the ball is.

For example, at a time when the performance of goalkeepers is so relevant, this is an entirely flawed practice. He will see what the 'keeper does when the ball is in his area, but will have learned nothing of his ability to organise his defence or communicate to his team-mates. Both are vital, but neither will feature in the footage he is viewing. He is at the mercy of seeing what the programme director deems most important.

Paddy Kenny, Joe Murphy, Keiren Westwood and even Millwall's David Forde are all now in the frame to fill the void left by Shay Given's injury, but none will be rigorously assessed in the weeks ahead. I'm sure the FAI will point to the scouting system in place and assure us Trapattoni is on top of things. However, with no commitments elsewhere, it would not be too much to ask that he make the occasional trip himself. In fact, there is no argument anywhere which could explain his absence from them all.

His wages are used by many as a yardstick for how successful he should be, but I do not believe they are of any relevance here. Watching games and communicating with players is part of any manager's job at every level. If he

was earning a tenth of what he is now, both would still be part of his remit.

His methods were not questioned as much during the last campaign for the simple fact that we all accepted second place was the best we could have achieved in that group. But was it all that difficult in reality? It wasn't until the finals in South Africa that people opened their eyes to how ordinary the Italians were, yet we could only draw with them away despite having an extra man for most of the game. It was the French (and not the match referee) who denied us a place via the play-offs, and again the full extent of their mediocrity was in full view last summer.

On both occasions we allowed ourselves to be distracted by the past achievements of those we were speaking about and failed to realise the limits and frailties which should have been blatantly obvious to us all. I can't help but feel we are doing the very same with Trapattoni.

rsadlier@independent.ie

Sunday Indo Sport

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