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Resurrection man Ireland may yet regret comments made about ex-boss Trap


Stoke City's Stephen Ireland.   Picture: REUTERS/Toby Melville

Stoke City's Stephen Ireland. Picture: REUTERS/Toby Melville

Stoke City's Stephen Ireland. Picture: REUTERS/Toby Melville

YOU really have to hand it to Stephen Ireland. His timing, as always, is impeccably bad. If you're keen to bad mouth a manager, do it when Paolo di Canio is on the warpath and Martin O'Neill on high alert.

Ireland has a new deal at Stoke and another chance to show he can play football and keep his mouth shut.

At least he seems to be getting the first part right but yesterday, he chose to have another pop at Giovanni Trapattoni. Clearly, he still needs a lesson about silence.

Di Canio wants a job and has been talking to the media again. He's been revisiting his time at Sunderland and in the process, managed to tar John O'Shea with all sorts of nasty stuff.

Remember, this is the Paolo di Canio who Martin O'Neill reserves a particular dislike for and in the first weeks of his time as Ireland manager, took every available chance to direct a firm verbal boot towards the Italian's backside.

The reason for that? Well Di Canio broke the code of omerta which most managers adhere to and spent the first few weeks of his time at the Stadium of Light bad-mouthing O'Neill by claiming the Makems needed a fitness boot camp.

It matters not one jot whether this was a correct assessment of Sunderland after O'Neill. The simple act of telling everyone about it put Di Canio in the doghouse and rightly so.

Now, he's extended his jibes to include O'Shea, Lee Cattermole and Phil Bardsley and again, it doesn't matter what the lads were up to while Di Canio was boss, he shouldn't be discussing it now.

Put it this way, will any professional footballer every trust Di Canio again? If he does find a new club, how can his senior players ever deal with him in a truthful way given the distinct possibility that within a few weeks or months, anything they say to him will be repeated in some bizarre attempt to justify his own inadequacies?

The dressing room code has a well-rehearsed function in football. It's a selfish thing designed to help players and managers say bad things and good things about each other behind closed doors and if necessary, pretend they never did once circumstances change.

But Di Canio's sly reference to poor fitness when he took charge of Sunderland was as unnecessary as it was unflattering to O'Neill and was nothing more than a provisional ball against the possibility of further bad results. In other words, it was lazy and cowardly.

It can be assumed from O'Neill's reaction to Di Canio's actions that the Ireland manager has no time for those who talk out of hand.

Which brings us back to Stephen Ireland who, apparently, wants to play for Ireland again. He hasn't heard a word from O'Neill or Roy Keane and presumes they are leaving him off to sort out his club life.

But while he was confirming his interest in playing "two campaigns", he also chose to have a bit of a go at Trapattoni, claiming that the infamous meeting with the Italian was a farce.

O'Neill has gone on record about his respect for Trapattoni's achievements and said that at some point, he would like to have a chat with the man about the five years he spent as Ireland manager.

In that time, Stephen Ireland put his foot in his mouth so many times he became a figure of fun.

Given the fact he brought all of this on himself and now wants to put things right, surely his best approach would be to write a letter to the FAI making himself available for selection again and then wait until someone gets in touch?

Surely after so many ill-advised comments by Ireland on a range of subjects he would see value in saying nothing until he gets a chance to make his pitch to the new Ireland manager?

O'Neill now has a good picture of the talent available to him and he will have heard opinions for and against bringing Ireland back into the fold.

It will be a close call, there's no doubt about that. Ireland is high maintenance and left a bad smell behind him during his first spell with the senior international team. His return would not be celebrated by some senior players.

When O'Neill finally makes a judgement, he will take all of this into account and it could well be that Ireland will come to regret his Trap remark.