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RUTHLESS STREAK IS a TRAIT TRAP HAS

GIOVANNI Trapattoni should not hesitate for a second if, over the next few months, a player of quality who could improve the Ireland team emerges from the ranks of the nation's exiles.

To be honest, I don't think Trapattoni would waste any time parachuting in any late recruits who might find the idea of a summer at the Euro 2012 finals attractive.

It sounds like a mercenary approach and I'm sure it would send vibrations through the Ireland squad, but that should not matter. Trapattoni's job and duty is to put the best team he can find onto the pitch, and I don't think he would be found wanting if the need arose.

There are many examples in Ireland's football history of managers making practical, if cruel, decisions and, in the wider world, I don't think there has ever been a good manager who has allowed sentiment to cloud his judgement.

For a while, Jamie O'Hara's name has popped up as a possible recruit and I know the lad himself has said that he wants to concentrate on representing England at some point in the future.

But he made those comments before Ireland qualified for Euro 2012, and I wonder what would happen if he had a change of heart and came to the FAI asking to declare.

How would and should Trapattoni react if a player who would carry obvious baggage in relation to his comments about England suddenly became available?

I think Trapattoni would swallow hard and draft him in before trying his best to look after the human consequences of leaving a player who has been loyal and committed for three years back in Dublin.

He would be right to do it. All the great managers had different ways of dealing with the issue of moving fading talent on. Some, like Shankly, could be cruel about it, while others, like Matt Busby, were charm personified.

Closer to home, Jack Charlton bit the bullet and made a hard decision about Gary Waddock the day before Ireland's squad for Italia '90 had to be handed in to FIFA and named Alan McLoughlin instead.

Three years later, McLoughlin gave Charlton his reward when he scored the goal which clinched qualification for US '94 on a stormy night in Windsor Park. Waddock, naturally enough, was distraught and all Charlton could do was offer an apology and move on.

Of course, a different approach was used with Liam Brady and nobody enjoyed the sight of a great player trailing disconsolately off the Lansdowne Road pitch, retired in a very public and unnecessary way.

Jack's theory was that Ireland couldn't let go of heroes and he wanted to make the break short and sharp.

At club level in England, we have seen Ireland's greatest players pushed towards the door and often in difficult circumstances. Ronnie Whelan has written in his book of the devastation he felt when he was told he was no longer wanted at Anfield, and Roy Keane's exit from Old Trafford was just as bitter.

But managers know that they have a duty to their club and while Alex Ferguson was perhaps guilty of lingering too long over making a decision on some of his greatest players when they came near the end, he didn't shirk the task when it became obvious that he had no other choice.



HISTORY

Trapattoni has some history in this area as well, which is revealing enough to give us a clear picture of how he might act. Once again, Liam is the example in point.

As Juventus manager, Trapattoni replaced Liam, then at the height of his powers, with Michel Platini, a decision brought about because of the foreign player restrictions in place in Serie A at the time.

Trapattoni made the call that his team would be better with Platini running midfield and made the cut.

If he is anything, Trapattoni is a consummate professional and I think he would make the hard call if he had to.

O'Hara is a player I would add to the squad in an instant, and there may be other names which will emerge now.

Sure, the players might be sore if one of their number was left out for a late addition, but they, like the manager, are professionals and, while they might moan for a while, they would move on sooner rather than later.


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