Trap looks forward to bright future
When Giovanni Trapattoni reflects on Ireland's year, he thinks a lot could have been better. When he reflects on his management skills, he thinks he is at the peak of his powers.
"I love my job and today, I know my job a lot better than I did 10 years ago or 20 years ago," he said at the FAI's headquarters in Abbotstown on Friday. "I show the players the little situations, why this and why this and why this. I am better manager now than 20 years ago. I know this but I'm not arrogant."
When he thinks about Ireland's year, Trapattoni awards it a six out of ten. He felt Ireland should have been at the World Cup but he also thinks about the Russia game. Nothing that happened on that disappointing Friday night surprised him, Trapattoni says. As always with the Ireland manager, there are many ways to interpret his comments.
If the game had been away from home, he says, he would have played with one striker but he could not do that at home. Even Trapattoni, it seems, is sometimes affected by notions of entertainment.
"I knew before the game of our difficulty with them but I couldn't change the team in this moment," suggesting that Ireland's good record in the opening games prevented him from changing a winning team.
Later he would remark that he couldn't drop Kevin Doyle or Robbie Keane but, he says, they missed Damien Duff and Stephen Hunt against Russia. Hunt, in particular, would have made a difference in closing down the Russians.
In fact, when the conversation turns to Gareth Bale later in the day and Trapattoni is asked what Inter should have done to stop him, Marco Tardelli interrupts, "Play Stephen Hunt."
Hunt will get his chance in the friendly against Norway in ten days. With James McCarthy injured, there is not a lot to get excited about. Keith Treacy decided to skip the qualifiers against Russia and Slovakia but is back in the squad. There was no problem, he says, providing an indication of how things must be negotiated, when he recalls Sam Allardyce's "unbelievable" reaction after Trapattoni talked about Steven Reid's knee injury.
Trapattoni goes to some lengths to show there was no problem with Treacy. He takes out his phone, looking for the text from Treacy but when he cannot find it, shows me one from Darron Gibson instead, apologising for the stories in which he appeared to be critical of Trapattoni. The papers were to blame of course, but Gibson's text ended with a 'Sorry!', evidence, Trapattoni says, that the players are eager to play.
Trapattoni remains eager to manage. He seemed burdened with worries during the Russia and Slovakia games but on Friday, his energy had returned. There is not a lot to get excited about over the winter for Ireland but Trapattoni has no doubt there is much to anticipate in the future.