Bright young things save Trap's bacon but he will keep us in the Dark Ages

WHEN is a win not a win?

That's the sort of existential question that sometimes puzzles the great philosophers of football.

And last night the question was being asked again after Ireland trounced Oman 4-1 in a friendly in London.

Okay, so Oman is hardly a world footballing power. But Ireland is the side which struggled to grab a last gasp win against Kazakhstan on Friday.

That's Kazakhstan which is ranked 142 in the world. And Ireland is the team that failed miserably in the European Championships, leaking nine goals and capitulating in all three of their group matches.

So what's with last night's great turnaround? Did Ireland's Italian manager work his magic?

Er... no.


He just had to play a bunch of players he's been telling us aren't ready for competitive international football.

Players who through their skill and enthusiasm made a mockery of Trapattoni's assertion that they weren't good enough.

So while the Dunphy and his ilk sit around stroking their chins, pondering their 4-4-2s, we know that toothy singer Alanis Morissette nailed it when she warbled, "Isn't it ironic?"

Yesterday, Giovanni Trapattoni's reputation was in tatters, his P45 nailed to a cross after his agony in Astana. And, last night, with a leap and a bound, the wily coyote was back in business.

Ironically, his career has just been salvaged by the very players he's humiliated for the last couple of years.

This professor of football played for Italy, the Azzurri, you know. Indeed, the last time Trapattoni played an international match was in 1964, when Myra Hindley and Ian Brady were still on a killing spree in Manchester, the Rolling Stones were thinking about releasing their first album and Greece was ruled by King Constantine the Second.

Thankfully, the world has moved on since then. And so has football.

Unfortunately for us, under Trapattoni's guidance, Ireland is now playing a style of football that belongs in the Dark Ages.

Last night the young players said, "Enough is enough" and broke fee of Trapattoni's old-fashioned strait-jacket and won 4-1.

In doing so, they threw their beleaguered manager a lifeline. But it seems Trap is too blinkered to even see it.

So, despite the Get Out Of Jail card, Giovanni remains a busted flush.


Last week I asked his sidekick Marco Tardelli if is his boss was remaining emotionally strong and confident, despite the many defections, the evidence of unrest and the tidal wave of negative feeling that swamped his camp. Marco became animated. "Why not? Why not? Why not?" he asked. "Football always changes. Every year it changes."

His response was just another of the conflicting messages we've been getting from Trapattoni's camp.

Change? The last big change Trapattoni would have noticed was when the Lira currency converted to the Euro.

The tragedy is that the stars of last night's game might yet regret having saved their manager's blushes.