Giovanni Trapattoni blasts ex-players following McGeady criticism
ON the weekend when Aiden McGeady silenced his doubters, Giovanni Trapattoni took aim at them.
Former Ireland captains Roy Keane and Andy Townsend were in the firing line, accused of ignorance for suggesting that McGeady could be sacrificed from the Irish starting XI for the challenge that lies ahead in Poland.
Trapattoni spoke out yesterday morning while sitting in the VIP lounge at Dublin airport before flying to Italy and the start of a week-long training camp in Tuscany. The 73-year-old became animated when discussion turned to McGeady's Man of the Match display on Saturday.
Convention normally rules a substitute out of the frame for such honours, but this was a special case.
The tricky winger totally changed the dynamic of the friendly encounter with Bosnia-Herzegovina, adding a spark to proceedings that culminated in a host of chances, and the perfectly lofted delivery for Shane Long's winning goal.
It served as a timely reminder of the Spartak Moscow player's abilities.
Keane had advocated the claims of James McClean as an alternative, suggesting that McGeady was in a comfort zone and not really doing it in Moscow -- comments that the player himself scathingly dismissed earlier in the week.
Townsend also questioned McGeady's consistency, a school of thought that Trapattoni believes is dated. He was slightly bemused by Townsend's comments anyway -- Ireland's manager has never heard of Jack Charlton's skipper in USA '94.
"I know Roy Keane. I don't know this other person (Townsend)," he replied.
"Maybe they don't follow Russian football or Aiden's evolution.
"I wish to ask them if they always played well from the day they were born. Was every game in their life beautiful? Or did they sometimes not play well?
"Can they not remember when they were younger? I look at Ryan Giggs at Manchester United. When he was 20 years old, he was a good player, but by the age of 28, 29, he had improved and matured and was a different type of player.
"I don't listen to ex-players. I think the manager is better in this situation. I don't need to answer to them. Before I speak, I think what I say. But I don't answer to these people."
Clearly, Trapattoni feels that McGeady (26) has improved. Indeed, Euro 2012 could propel the Glaswegian to a different level.
Few have doubted his talent. Keane, who lined up alongside McGeady at Celtic, appears to think that he is failing to deliver on his potential.
Sometimes, the winger has flattered to deceive. But he was more effective than most throughout the road to Poland, and Saturday was a step up from that.
Often, he is targeted for his decision-making. But his judgment was perfect against the Bosnians as he constantly darted into dangerous positions and repeatedly found the intended target with his crosses.
Unquestionably, the emergence of McClean has added a spice to proceedings. It's a compelling argument for constantly introducing new players to the mix, for it brings something out of the men in command of their place.
Nevertheless, Trapattoni does not feel that McGeady required a kick up the backside.
"He has improved over two years," he stressed.
"He was good then, now he is better. He has matured. He has personality, and he decides when to dribble and not to dribble. Now my duty is to preserve him."
This was Trapattoni in bullish mode. Observers in the camp have noted an increased intensity from the manager over the last couple of days. It is time for the serious business now.
Trapattoni had sympathy for Keith Fahey on Saturday evening, when the midfielder went for a run after the game and realised that he was still feeling the groin problem that has curtailed the second half of his season.
He had spent nine days in Malahide working on the recovery process, but a sprint found him out.
It's a horrible time for a player who contributed significantly to the qualification effort with the decisive goal in Armenia, and a man who almost dropped out of football following troubled times at Arsenal and Aston Villa, only to rehabilitate himself in the League of Ireland and earn a second chance in England.
Trapattoni understood his devastation, and assured the 29-year-old that he would be in his plans for the World Cup 2014 campaign. But his words were laced in pragmatism.
"Surely he wasn't happy," he said. "But he felt the injury again, and it was better that we recovered another fit player.
"The other players were sad for him, but they were also happy they won the game. There is the moment to give regards and we will see Keith again in August, in the future. In this moment, we have to concentrate."
Paul Green is the beneficiary. He answered the call on Saturday evening, and rushed in to join the group ahead of yesterday's flight to Pisa.
He started that game in Armenia in the centre of the park, and stayed in the team for the next three qualifiers while Keith Andrews was sidelined through injury.
A knee problem looked to have cost him dearly, but he was called up for the February friendly with the Czech Republic and narrowly missed the 23-man cut.
Green is currently without a club after rejecting a new contract offer from Derby, and Leeds are among his suitors. He's not the only player in the Irish squad who knows this tournament could open doors.
The 29-year-old is Trapattoni's kind of player, and the boss knows that his late call-up isn't a crowd-pleaser.
"I thought very, very long about putting him in the squad," he explained.
"I spoke with Marco Tardelli about him. He is a particular type of player, who has a good mentality and attitude. He doesn't permit the other team's playmakers to relax and get on the ball. This is important.
"I know the reporters don't like him. You only like the players who are like this," he continues, while mimicking the playing of a violin. For Trapattoni, this is a symbol of beauty and enjoyment.
Only one man assigns the roles in his orchestra, and the view of nobody else matters. Not even Keano. The ex-pros can keep silent. Leave the violin to McGeady.