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Honeymoon is over for McCarthy


Republic of Ireland's James McCarthy in action during squad training. Picture: David Maher/SPORTSFILE

Republic of Ireland's James McCarthy in action during squad training. Picture: David Maher/SPORTSFILE

Republic of Ireland's James McCarthy in action during squad training. Picture: David Maher/SPORTSFILE

"IT'S important. It's professional discipline. You have time after to rest." – Giovanni Trapattoni puts it up to James McCarthy.

TOUCHPAPER ready. Matches ready. Giovanni Trapattoni wasted no time. He was doing too well, James McCarthy, for the honeymoon to last.

Trapattoni is not happy with James. Suspended for the World Cup qualifier against the Faroe Islands on Friday, he has been given the rest of the week off and is supposed to be back on Friday.

But nobody is sure whether he will be back and available for Ireland's friendly against Spain in Yankee Stadium next week. There is clearly a battle of wills between Trapattoni, Wigan, an agent and McCarthy.

Sharp-eyed readers will note that The Herald carried a back page yesterday which highlighted the growing love affair between Trapattoni and McCarthy.

It lasted less than a day. Once the subject of McCarthy staying on for the trip to New York was raised, Trapattoni was back on an old hobby horse.

So old that it should have been consigned to the knacker's yard long since. In short, the FAI took on the match, the players are professionals and they should get on the plane and be happy to do it.

Fair enough. Ireland need committed footballers but the notion that they are the property of the FAI is faintly ludicrous. If anyone holds the indenture, it's the clubs and they pay a serious amount of money for the privilege.



It would be good to see our best midfielder in New York but Trapattoni did offer the fig leaf of a groin strain to cater for an Ireland team without McCarthy at Yankee Stadium in a week's time.

Mind you, it was a pretty transparent fig leaf and Trapattoni made no attempt to hold it in place for any longer than it took to establish the excuse. Off he went on a three-minute soliloquy about the days when he was a player when Juve, Milan and Inter wrapped up domestic matters and took a flight to America for a 20-day tour and how disappointed he is that players don't feel the same now.

There was only one player he had in mind – McCarthy. Afterwards, he confirmed that everyone else will be on the Saturday morning flight, although the grapevine would suggest that he may not know the whole picture.

It would be a surprise if he did. Trapattoni admitted yesterday that he had made a mistake with Wes Hoolahan and "ignored" him for too long.

That's a pretty big miss. Not knowing the holiday plans of some of your players six days before take-off is small beans beside such an error.

But how could it have been any other way? He doesn't see any games in England so he wouldn't know.

His excuse for leaving Hoolahan out of his plans for so long? Darron Gibson, Glenn Whelan and Keith Andrews got Ireland to Euro 2012 and deserved to play.

Small problem with that. Gibson didn't play much in the qualifiers and not at all in Poland. He hasn't played since.

Trapattoni's duty is to play his best team at all times and we now know that Hoolahan should have been a live option.

The significance of that is huge. How different Ireland's approach might have been in Poland if Hoolahan had been integrated into the squad a year earlier?

It's the same theme which has been bubbling away underneath everything the man has done since the FAI hired him.

The really annoying part of it all is that Trapattoni is now stamping his name on Ireland's squad evolution and taking full credit for McCarthy, Séamus Coleman and Shane Long's improvement; quite a chunky insult to the various club managers involved.

A bit much for the players too, come to think of it.

Trapattoni did everything he could to stop all three getting international game time until he had no choice.

The sense that Trapattoni is along for the ride at this stage grows stronger with every game and he's too long at it to miss an opportunity like that.

So we have another round of Trap v James to keep the pot boiling and take the eye away from the fact that Ireland have been playing some football of late; that McCarthy has played in every single game since August, that Hoolahan is made for international football and that Coleman should have been in Poland a year ago.

More big, juicy mistakes in among all of that but nothing to do with Trapattoni. He change things, slowly, slowly and now we're seeing the results.

He didn't change anything. He doesn't ever change. That's the problem.