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Trap sets the right tone for opener

GIOVANNI Trapattoni is not a humble man. He wears his achievements proudly and is never averse to quoting at length from his vast library of great victories and great days.

But he has within him the capacity for humility and this is what makes him a great man.

Yesterday, without actually coming out and saying that he listened to what his players were telling him after Budapest and changed his training schedule, he showed that over 50 years at the coalface, he still has room to learn a lesson.

The concern remains, however, that Trapattoni made a mistake and a pretty big one in the progress of his preparation.

Worse than that, the team around him either didn't recognise that the players were unhappy or didn't feel minded to tell the boss.

He felt a strange shift among his players in the Ferenc Puskas Stadium and his first response was fiery, his second more measured and yesterday, he offered conciliation and even wrapped himself on the knuckles.

Trapattoni stepped all the way back from his original rant about what he perceived as a lack of commitment from some key men in Budapest.

"I think after Hungary there was an atmosphere that was a little strange but I have looked at the game again and it was not too bad. I said that to the team and they were happy.

"I was a little bit worried. For the first time in two years I saw the team less aggressive, slow to start. But then I thought about the 30-minute delay with the storm and it was not as bad as I thought.

"Before the game, I said to them to be careful with injuries and after the game I thought maybe it would have been better if I didn't say this."

So, for all the reasons which have been well rehearsed throughout the week, it is clear that Trapattoni read the temperature of his squad incorrectly and it took Aiden McGeady to bring him up short.

McGeady is an oddity in football in as much as he speaks his mind, and in this case, the truth emptied a bucket of cold water over his manager.

It may have taken Trapattoni a few days to admit his mistake but he reacted quickly to McGeady's prompt when he did and with a bit of luck, will avoid any negative consequences when Ireland meet Croatia tomorrow.

"It is my duty to give them rest. The commitment has been fantastic. Kevin Doyle and Robbie Keane can help together in this situation," he said, referring to the major weakness in his system against teams like Russia and Croatia.


"Missing two days training and a little relaxation was fine. Training was tough and concentrated," he said and completed the climbdown.

"Without any more surprises or injury I've called back the same 11. I have clarified what I want from them.

"I have also told them that we have an important duty and I have tried to give the team everything it is they need to win.

"I remind the players of their duty and the sacrifice our supporters have made to come to Poland. I remind them their people expect, what their country expects."

Trapattoni is still bitter about his two appearances at major finals with Italy.

"I remember the last two. One or two days before, I was a little bit tense, in the Euros, the World Cup and indeed the Champions League final.

I think back to the match Sweden v Denmark. Again, after France and Ireland, Domenech said to me, do you know football?

"I told him, yes, I know football. Sweden and Denmark -- I said to Lennart Johansson that if this game finish a draw we should open an investigation. I'm still waiting on the investigation."

Trapattoni got his players back on a training ground yesterday for the first serious work since the final day in Montecatini and liked what he saw.

"They looked fresh and well and I think our condition is fantastic now. There is also a nice healthy competition within the squad.

"The young players push hard and they play well. I won't change the structure of the team but when we are missing one or two the team will play with the same balance.

"We are conscious about our quality and I repeated to the team that we have a good quality, good balance, attitude and strength.

"All players must be proud about our country and our people. They are making a great sacrifice to make this trip.

"The players know this. I told them how important our support is and that we must guarantee them a total commitment."