Tuesday 23 January 2018

Trapattoni hits back at Brady's call for change

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

GIOVANNI TRAPATTONI is aware what has been said and written about his team. So he asks for a pen and paper, and produces scribblings of his own.

He is talking tactics. After being told that even his most ardent supporter, Liam Brady, had called for a player-driven change of playing style, Trapattoni seeks to explain the logic behind his side's direct approach.

So he sketches a situation where a full-back is playing the ball long, towards a forward player, who must create space in order to facilitate runners from midfield.

His basic point is that the second ball means everything, and he would rather his players be contesting that in opposition territory.


In terms of last Friday's lucky win in Kazakhstan, he explains there were two reasons that his team focused on the long ball. One was the pitch, a view that was verified by defender Stephen Ward. "It wasn't really set up to play football on," said the left-back.

The other, according to Trapattoni, was to avoid unnecessary running.

"We had to save energy," he said. "So the long ball, and second ball, and then we play. We're not Manchester United -- tip, tip, tip, tip. We needed our strength.

"You could pass the ball for 80 minutes and lose one or two nil. The players must move, but I have to give them the situation.

"Liam Brady, he was never a manager. (He is then reminded that Brady did in fact work in management). You need to think in the night. I lie awake and think about this today, a new team, how we play in defence, how we develop the game."

There may be a slightly different modus operandi in the friendly with Oman here in London tomorrow. His selection of Seamus Coleman at right-back is a positive step. The Everton flier will support new cap Robbie Brady on the right side of midfield in a partnership that should excite.

On the other side of defence, Marc Wilson comes in for a first start, behind Andy Keogh. David Meyler will also make his debut next to James McCarthy in the centre of midfield, with Friday's substitutes Kevin Doyle and Shane Long paired up front. Doyle is set to captain the team.

Reserve goalkeepers David Forde and Darren Randolph are likely to play one half each, which is perhaps slightly surprising given Keiren Westwood's lack of match practice at Sunderland. Westwood has been allowed return to his club, with West Ham's Stephen Henderson drafted in last night to provide cover.

In defence, his preparations have been complicated by a knock picked yesterday by Sean St Ledger.

The Leicester man damaged his knee while tackling Long and there are fears he has suffered a recurrence of the problem which ruled him out of the early weeks of the season. He was lined up to partner Stephen Kelly in the heart of the back four. Paul McShane is likely to deputise, although Reading's Alex Pearce should also make his Irish bow at some stage.

Pearce, who was born in England, played for Ireland at schoolboy level before representing Scotland in the U-21 age group.

The centre-half is a regular at Reading and has been talking for the past year about his desire to line out for Ireland. Clearance is still required for competitive games, but he can figure in this fixture.

"It is a chance for the new players to show they deserve to be there," said Trapattoni. "We will try Brady and Coleman on the right. It's a technical position and we need Coleman running along the line.

"Brady is a type of player we are missing. He has vision, pass, and can shoot, like James McCarthy, but he has other midfield work, like David Meyler."

Along with Westwood, Robbie Keane, Darren O'Dea, John O'Shea, Glenn Whelan and Jonathan Walters were all allowed to return to their clubs.

Aiden McGeady spent yesterday on family duty, but he will link up with the squad ahead of training at Craven Cottage this evening, and will play a substitute's role.

Irish Independent

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