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Proof if we ever needed it that Ireland would be better off if manager kept his Trap shut

LEON Best can afford the hint of a smile when he looks in the mirror today. Shane Long in dry dock and Giovanni Trapattoni's attacking options are dropping like skittles.

The next few weeks will involve much hand-wringing and fervent prayer for the fitness of Long and Robbie Keane but in the likely event that Trapattoni needs to call in reinforcements, he has created an unnecessary problem with Best which may be difficult to resolve.

It was a totally different picture a few weeks back when foolish words spoken through the megaphone about Best forced another Premier League club manager to remonstrate with Trap.

Alan Pardew had every right to step into the debate caused by another bout of Trap's verbal diarrhoea and he was simply following a path walked by a string of club bosses all the way back to Roy Keane when he was with Sunderland and went in to bat for Andy Reid.

When he had a go at Best a few weeks ago, Trapattoni did so from what he thought was a position of strength with five strikers under his command.

Now, only Simon Cox and Jonathan Walters remain as options, pending word from LA on Robbie Keane.

It is remarkable how often Trapattoni lets his mouth off the leash when it comes to issues which the football tradition on these islands would dictate should be discussed in the corridor after training or at the side of the pitch -- man to man.

He becomes a petty and impatient man when he feels his discipline is not being followed or when a populist groundswell diverges from the Trapattoni system.

As we know only too well by now, Best is not the first to feel the harsh edge of Trapattoni's tongue, and he won't be the last. Once he makes a judgement, Trapattoni will stick to it and often to the exclusion of common sense and, at times, common courtesy.

It is difficult to watch Steven Reid whip in wicked crosses for West Brom and retain a sense of perspective about Best's credentials or Trapattoni's opinions.

First and foremost, it isn't a matter of whether Best is a lazy player, as Trapattoni clearly intimated, or not. It's about showing a bit of respect for fellow pros.

Trapattoni showed very little respect for Reid, one of nature's gentlemen and a player who just three years ago looked like he might be on the brink of an international and club career in central midfield which would rival great names from past teams.

His knee injuries caused him endless grief and yet he showed a truly impressive resolve to work through the dark days when he was all but sure he would never play again to emerge still able to perform at the highest level.

Trapattoni shot his mouth off about Reid's knees and the player's long term viability as a Premier League player and got it badly wrong. Anyone who was present on the day when he retired Reid was left in no doubt that the prognosis was very poor, which we now know was wildly inaccurate.

There was little or no contact between Trapattoni and Reid in the time when his career was on the line, and none since. It is this cold-hearted yet almost whimsical ruthlessness, totally unnecessary in most cases and Trapattoni's willingness to criticise players publicly which have defined the man during his time with Ireland.

Trapattoni is an absentee manager in a very real sense and when he breezes in and out of Dublin, he often scatters verbal bombs around the place before ducking onto a flight to Milan, while we all struggle to interpret his words.

His comments about Best were firmly in that category. Trapattoni asked for greater commitment and a higher work rate from Best but from the way he spoke, it was obvious that he didn't really think he would get it or that the occasion would ever arise when it was an issue.

In other words, Trapattoni never really thought he would have to lean on Best and now he might just have to.

Then again, knowing something of Trapattoni's stubbornness, it would be no surprise at all if he left Best out of his squad for the Estonia games and carried on regardless.