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Gio's work of fiction

"OUR job is always so. People forget the victories. In my life, what I have done until now, and also with this team, is improve teams. That is the life of the manager" - Giovanni Trapattoni

YOUNG players have always been a source of optimism. They carry the promise of future great days no matter how grim the circumstances.

We should be celebrating and enjoying the emergence of Seamus Coleman, James McCarthy, James McClean, Ciaran Clark and Robbie Brady and allowing imaginations to roam.

That's what football is about for those of us not fortunate to be gifted or even competent. We live the dream vicariously and when a good kid sticks his hand up and looks like he has talent, pulses rise.

Now, we sit and watch while Giovanni Trapattoni, kicking and screaming, loosens the straitjacket for a friendly against Greece, all the while knowing that when it comes to the nitty-gritty in March, nothing will change.

We should be talking about a shoot-out between McClean and Brady for a start against Sweden or McCarthy's chance to stand beside Glenn Whelan and show he can do better.

But it's impossible to focus on the development of this team while Trapattoni's head, as Whelan put it so succinctly, is on the block.

More difficult still because Trapattoni is claiming the credit for introducing the very players he fought so hard to resist.

It should never have been so hard to find game time for these players. Remember, Coleman, McCarthy and Clark have been playing Premier League football for two seasons and more.

But the all-important FIFA ranking, blown to bits by Germany six weeks ago, was quoted by Trapattoni as one of the main imperatives of the job specification he was given.

This, in turn, was used as an excuse to resist calls for change and that is why Clark has just two caps to his name and Coleman and McCarthy eight each, most of them won in the last three months

Since Trapattoni survived a concerted effort from the infamous FAI leaker to unseat him, both he and Marco Tardelli have been listing their achievements at the drop of a hat.

A few days ago, Tardelli described 2012 as a 'fantastic' year. When you're earning a half million quid for doing not very much, any year is a fantastic year.

Trapattoni, who is earning three times what Tardelli is trousering, must have had a truly spectacular year.


He was rewriting history to suit his own narrative yesterday. Players he wouldn't cross the road to watch a year ago have now been 'discovered' and stitched into the tale.

He is trying to turn reality on its head. Included, believe it or not, among the players he has 'discovered' are Coleman, McCarthy and McClean.

That's Coleman who he didn't bring to Poland and wouldn't even name in a squad; McCarthy who he refused to cap until he was virtually instructed to do so and McClean who battered his way into the Euro 2012 panel on form alone and could not be ignored -- although Trapattoni did his best to do just that.

No manager should have to change things to suit popular opinion or an instruction from above.

But when Trapattoni was engaged in a one-sided shouting match with McCarthy a few years ago, it was impossible to avoid the feeling that this was just irrational behaviour from a cranky old man; just a cantankerous response to public and pundit opinion.

He was wrong to engage in a public haranguing of McCarthy and wrong to vent his opinions on Darron Gibson in front of a microphone.

He got it spectacularly wrong in Poland and hasn't done much right since. Kazakhstan was awful and Germany, if we're honest, no surprise at all.

But Trapattoni is never wrong and so he and Tardelli have been doing a bit of revision, telling it like they want it to be.

"Maybe I am a little bit presumptuous," he said yesterday. "But I know how good a job we have done in the last two or three years. We have changed the team, discovered other players and we achieved qualification for the Euros, so I think we have done our jobs well until now."

All of the above is factually correct, but only if you stop the clock in Montecatini when all was well and our garden rosy. Everything since has been a car crash

But even that picture has a flaw. The seed for the humiliation that was Germany was sown in the previous three years. Trapattoni settled on his system and wouldn't budge -- even when players he believed to be inadequate proved him wrong against France in Paris.

Trapattoni killed that flowering of ability and imagination and with it, any chance that Ireland might be able to adapt in a rapidly changing football landscape.

He claims he has improved the team, but the evidence for or against him over the past six months is overwhelmingly negative.

Ireland's ranking has dropped to within a few places of where it was when the FAI hired him, so not much improvement there.

The football played has been mostly depressing and two of the greatest humiliations ever visited upon an Irish team happened on his watch.


The fact that Spain and Germany administered the canings is neither here nor there. Kazakhstan were well over 100 places below Ireland in the FIFA rankings when they came within an eye blink of winning in Astana.

But Trapattoni cannot lose in all of this. The rest of Europe think he's a done a great job with the raggedy-arse Irish so his legend is intact. So is his bank balance.

The FAI can't afford to fire him but even that will be urgently reviewed should the wheels fall off in March 2013.

One way or other, Giovanni and Marco and, of course, Fausto will walk into the sunset carrying a bale of euro on each shoulder. This is the life of Trapattoni.