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For all our gripes it's good to know Italian's at tiller for the long haul

FOR those who like their football with extra drama on the side, confirmation that Giovanni Trapattoni will be at the tiller guarantees that Ireland's involvement in international football will be anything but humdrum for the next few years.

Those of us who were lucky enough to be in Bari a few years back when Trapattoni was among his own got a true picture of the extraordinary dynamic he creates around himself.

The battle of wills and wits between Trapattoni and Marcello Lippi was truly wonderful and the reaction of the local press was just a touch short of hysterical.

A huge phalanx of cameras, microphones and bodies marked Trapattoni's progress from pitch to press conference while Lippi trailed behind, very much The Boy beside The Man.

Once or twice, Lippi was almost mown down by hungry television crews scrambling to get into position for Trapattoni's pre-match homily and all but elbowing the Italian manager out of his seat to make room for their favourite.

In Paris, it was the same. The international media love Trapattoni for the same reason the Irish press corps have taken to him. He's pure box office wherever he goes.


Sure, he frustrates and irritates to the point of distraction when he wanders off on one of his garbled verbal adventures but when he wants to make a point, the fog lifts and he makes it. No doubt there are several players within the Irish squad and around the fringe who feel that it would be much better for all concerned if Trapattoni said less about them in public, particularly when comments cause problems for them at their clubs.

And there is a strong sense that Trapattoni should do more for his very big salary and show up in England on a regular basis to establish better contact with players and managers.

There's no doubt he would charm them into submission if he did. But for all of that, and miscellaneous other gripes, like the truly awful football played by Ireland at times over the last three years, it is good to know that he will be with us for the long haul.

And if the stars align themselves favourably, he will bow out from football management in Brazil, the place everyone wants to be in 2014.

Before that, of course, there's the small matter of making his mark on Euro 2012 and there is no question but that Ireland will generate more media requests to UEFA because of Trapattoni than all but the very top nations. UEFA understand how media friendly Trapattoni is and no doubt they insisted that he travel to Kiev for Friday's draw ceremony, which is as it should be.


It would have sent a terrible message a few days after signing a new and very plush contract with the FAI if he observed events in the Ukrainian capital from his home in Cusano Milanino.

So what does Trapattoni want from his trip to one of the most far-flung outposts of Europe?

More than anything else, he needs his luck to hold.

In the aftermath of qualification, the revisionists are out in force, arguing Trapattoni's corner in trenchant terms which were absent while qualification was still in play.

But no matter what way anyone appraises his performance so far as Ireland coach, he was remarkably fortunate both en route to Paris and on a variety of occasions during the Euro 2012 qualifying group.

The one statistic which is a big worry as we await news of the nations which must be faced next summer is the fact that Trapattoni's Ireland have not beaten a higher ranked team in a competitive game.

Only the host nations are currently ranked below Ireland in the UEFA list and that makes every opponent a potential tartar.


But if a statistic can be used to indicate the scale of the challenge ahead, it can also be used to point out that while Ireland's best footballers have not beaten a team ranked above them in competitive action under Trap, they haven't lost too many either.