Sunday 18 February 2018

Rachel Wyse: Wily Trap knew what he was doing – Ireland just don't have the players

Giovanni Trapattoni
Giovanni Trapattoni

Rachel Wyse

When the end came it was inevitable. Giovanni Trapattoni knew himself the game was up. He has been around long enough to know his business is all about results.

Ireland's results in this World Cup qualifying campaign have amounted to nothing of any significance and after five and a half years of guiding Irish soccer fortunes, Trapattoni saw his tenure unsurprisingly ended by the FAI in the wake of defeat in Vienna.

Does the suggestion of a reduced compensation package indicate the Italian was happy to be released from his duties, happy to be free from the limitations of a mediocre team?

Irrespective of the way his team played, no one can dispute the standard of Irish player available to the national manager has been and continues to be in serious decline. We can argue about Trapattoni's team selections forever and a day but it's not as though he has chosen to omit 10 outstanding players starring every week in the Premier League from his squad.

For the latest campaign he chose the best players available. How he deployed them, or in some cases failed to deploy them, continues to be controversial.

Over time a media-led chorus suggested this Irish team could be playing far more attractive football to greater effect than Trapattoni's methods allow. Probably the most controversial omission was Wes Hoolahan. He is a clever, skilful player but, listening to voices from some quarters, he is the second coming of Zinedine Zidane. Trapattoni has looked at the Norwich player and didn't see a meaningful role for the Dubliner.

Hoolahan may well have suffered because of the lack of like-minded, skilful players in the Irish set-up and Trapattoni clearly decided he wasn't about to hang a strategy of beautiful football on one player.

People can talk about managers encouraging a creative philosophy and positive tactics but if the players simply haven't the basic skills needed to engage in such an approach the argument is dead in the water.

Austria's goal on Tuesday night was a perfect example of the deficiencies in the fundamentals of Irish players. Jonathan Walters attempted to trap a ball on the right wing, he miscontrolled it and from there the Austrians attacked.

Our left-back Marc Wilson hadn't the capability of clearing with his weaker right foot and skewed his attempt straight to the feet of David Alaba.

These are the players Trapattoni was supposed to encourage to play and be creative. In qualifying for Euro 2012 and getting to a play-off in Paris for the 2010 World Cup, the Italian's reign is not without notable achievements.

This campaign has been forgettable but only in time will we know if expectations for this current crop of Irish players are realistic or whether the wily Italian knew more than the rest of his detractors. Ciao Trap.

I hope you were wrong but something tells me you were right.

Irish Independent

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