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Kelly gave Royal evidence that Trap's off target

THERE is much to admire about the team Brian McDermott has built at Reading and the kind of commitment required by his players to turn his thoughts into reality.

Last night, they gave Manchester United the runaround for long spells but ultimately had to bow to the weight of quality sprung from Alex Ferguson's bench.

If McDermott had even one of the fearsome four Ferguson has assembled at Old Trafford, Reading would be much further up the table and might have made the mighty blush and Manchester United's treble chance disappear.

Javier Hernadez would do for McDermott nicely. Or Danny Welbeck. They started for Ferguson and when he needed to inject a bit more bite, he threw Nani and Robin Van Persie in for a romp. Wayne Rooney stayed at home with a decongestant and a headache.

Like all managers in McDermott's position, he is starved of quality even if he can find no shortage of grit and talent in the group he has.

They give him every ounce and none more than Noel Hunt, a key man in Reading's resistance, both as an attacking threat and a defensive bulwark.

Likewise Stephen Kelly, a man at the centre of an ever more ludicrous set of circumstances generated by Giovanni Trapattoni, who made the best comment he could make by playing football well at Old Trafford in a big game.

The other player in the three-way drama, Ian Harte, didn't make an appearance against Manchester United but his latest attack on Trapattoni generated plenty of headlines.

Harte is a fantastic loose cannon; a wild variable who causes havoc by simply telling it as he sees it and in the process, strips away layers of weariness, spin, confusion and arrogance to reveal a version of the truth.

When Harte claims that Trapattoni is 'killing' Irish football, he has a point if you subscribe to the idea that at least part of the success achieved by both Jack Charlton and Mick McCarthy was down to the kind of beautiful lunacy behind the 'give it a lash' mentality.

It helped too that the whole endeavour was laced with great humour and unfolded as a joint effort between an accessible manager, universally popular players and smitten supporters.

Charlton was and is loved and while that could never be said of McCarthy, he was at least respected. Can we say the same now about Trapattoni? Definitely not.

There was a brief moment in the wake of qualification for Euro 2012 when Trapattoni almost crested the high water mark set by previous icons of Irish sport but he went back to Milan and the party balloons soon sagged.

Euro 2012 was a debacle and everything since reeks of confusion and poor management. Harte voiced the uncomfortable truth that Trapattoni's competence and professionalism are the key issues here.

As a 66-cap veteran playing Premier League football, Harte deserved the courtesy of a chat with the senior international manager but was precluded from such a nicety by the fact that Trapattoni didn't know he was Irish.

Harte clearly believes that this is just the tip of the iceberg and that other Irish players have suffered such careless disregard, a point underlined by the fact that Trapattoni went to see Derby play Norwich and stumbled upon Jeff Hendrick.

Such a disconnect between the wider Irish football diaspora and the senior international manager is a cause for great concern and as Harte has pointed out, he doesn't have a great track record with the players he picks either.

He has never been embraced by the nation or tried very hard to return whatever affectation he has been shown and now that the results more closely match the type of football Trapattoni has delivered for more than four years, Harte is not alone in his impatience to see him gone.