Wednesday 21 March 2018

Selection for Serbia must be about evolution, not revolution

David Kelly

David Kelly

Giovanni Trapattoni has historically restricted himself from deploying friendlies as an experimental tool, repeatedly deferring narcissistically to Ireland's growth in the world rankings.

This is folly and the FAI should insist that world ranking points in friendlies become a redundant currency.

A change in attitude is required more than a wholesale raft of changes in personnel; but a friendly will be the perfect opportunity for the Italian to re-energise himself and the international team -- not to mention the fickle public.

Vodka shots don't sell for a euro in Dublin so the fans will need a reason to get out and support the team -- previous evidence, with crowds well below the numbers that travelled to Poland, suggests they are often reluctant to do so given the quality of fare on show.

The names in my team selection contain no radical surprises; Trapattoni has repeatedly name-checked them -- "for the future".

Well, the future is now.

Regardless of how many senior players decide to retire, they should not be pursued for such a meaningless friendly at the beginning of a club season, particularly with the mentally and physically grinding trip to Kazakhstan looming a month later.

And, who knows, should Trapattoni, who has already declared his thirst for "revenge", decide to energise his resources, perhaps that will persuade his senior players that they, too, are in the business for avenging the failure of this past month.

This is a team that is balanced defensively, can play long or short, wide or narrow. It has, quite simply, more than one option.

It may not necessarily be the best team at his disposal in Belgrade come August 15. But it is a different team -- and that is the whole point of the exercise. A transition by definition requires something different -- not always revolution, but evolution.

Trapattoni is familiar with all these players -- now is the time to get to know them even better.

My team to face Serbia -- Westwood; Coleman, Clark, St Ledger, Wilson; McGeady, Andrews, Gibson, McClean, McCarthy; Long.

Irish Independent

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