Ireland's refusal to answer call won't trouble Trap's sleep
WELL, at least it's over early this time. Giovanni Trapattoni may travel to watch Stephen Ireland in Birmingham next weekend, but the Corkman's latest foray into newsprint effectively confirms that he will play no part in Ireland's Euro 2012 campaign.
Even when things were going swimmingly during the ill-fated World Cup campaign, the thorny matter of Ireland's future was never too far from the agenda, particularly as the initial stage of that adventure coincided with the high point of his stint with Manchester City and mixed messages from the midfielder. However, his latest analysis of Trapattoni's approach -- in discussion with Sunday newspaper journalists on Friday after a far more conciliatory stance in the main press conference -- ensures the extension of his exile.
The headlines say he's gone forever, although, given his inconsistency, all we can say for now is that he won't be returning while the Italian remains in charge. While ultimately stating that he is to blame for his absence from the international scene, the boy who turned 24 yesterday returned to his 'bizarre' first meeting with Trapattoni, shortly after the 71-year-old was appointed.
"I'm not sure he was that keen on me," he said. "The more and more he saw me, the more keen he probably was but, at the start, he was probably getting some hassle to bring me back. I don't think he knew much about me as a player.
"As time has gone on, he seems more desperate to get me back than the first time I met him. There were instances in our conversation that were strange and didn't seem too appealing."
Ireland's comments were put to Liam Brady, who acted as translator in that meeting, on Saturday night.
"I didn't think the meeting we had was bizarre," stated Brady. "He said he had every intention of coming back, and said he had family problems to sort out first.
"I never got the feeling he was serious about coming back. I don't think he has a passion about playing for his country. He's only interested in his club career and the reward it brings.
"I don't think he's needed in the Irish scene. You've got to create a team spirit and he doesn't bring anything of that to the squad. I know a lot more about the lad and having seen his behaviour, I'll not lose any sleep over it."
At this stage, the amount of people who twist and turn at night-time pondering Ireland's situation have dwindled. In an ideal world, it would never have come to this, and a nation short of quality players would have another available.
Yet, Trapattoni has moulded his team into such a functioning unit that it is hard to see how the schemer could be accommodated seamlessly. The hope is that promising, and better-adjusted, talents like Darron Gibson and James McCarthy will develop. However, the likelihood that Gibson will be on the bench in Armenia, while McCarthy is with the U-21s, drums home the message that Il Capo prefers the industry of his other central midfield options to finesse.
The main losers, of course, are the media, for the Ireland circus would bring fantastic entertainment to a world where characters are a dwindling phenomenon.
There is a brilliant irony in Ireland, he of the garish pink-wheeled vehicles and, lest we forget, no medals, tut-tutting at the opulence advertised by youngsters at Manchester City.
"They're coming in with £10,000 watches on their wrists and walking around as if they have played 200 Premier League games," he said.
Magic. The Irish pysche is indelibly attracted to the tortured genius and it's possible that, in time, people would have grown to love the cheeky chappie who feels he is constantly misunderstood -- a man who says he revealed Superman briefs to demonstrate strength in the fall-out from his controversial departure from the international scene.
And Clark Kent, for all his strength, couldn't even bring his two grannies back to life.
Alas, we'll have to solider on without such a great entertainer in our ranks. Considering the importance of qualifying for Euro 2012, and the stock which Trapattoni places in law and order, you can't help but think that he is better off without the distraction.