| 15°C Dublin

Aimless Ireland living on a prayer

If Giovanni Trapattoni gets Ireland to the European Championship finals, it won't be difficult to break down his tactical blueprint, will it?

Make sure Shay Given does his Pilates to keep that back loose and check that Richard Dunne is breathing. Beyond that? Pick a repertory company of nine people, making sure they're the types that run a lot and are, generally, conformist.

That and say a few Novenas.

The players' effort in Moscow was heroic, but the performance was bereft of any visible strategy, beyond tracking back and making tackles.

Trapattoni is a smart man who has forgotten more about football than most of us will ever get to know but Ireland fluked the draw with Russia. They were about as tactical as a bull-attack.

Even Trapattoni himself spoke of being the beneficiaries of St Patrick's assistance.

True, two players proved heroic, almost beyond words. Given has, consistently, looked world-class on international duty. And Dunne's display was a timely and old-fashioned rebuke of those who have, of late, approached the business of representing their country as some galling inconvenience,

But last Tuesday was, arguably, Trapattoni's poorest hour in charge of Ireland. It was a return to the vulnerability of Nicosia under Steve Staunton when every opposition attack carried the palpable threat of a goal. Individual heroics shouldn't obscure what looked a travesty.

The celebrated Italian is paid to coach not pray.

Irish Independent