Tuesday 21 November 2017

Trapattoni regime lurches from cock-up to cock-up

Richard Sadlier

Richard Sadlier

Patrice Evra wanted to leave Manchester United last summer. He was aware of interest from both Inter Milan and Real Madrid, and following his disastrous experience with France in the World Cup, he decided a change was needed. His mind was made up, but he reconsidered his options when Alex Ferguson intervened. Ferguson was aware of his player's mindset, called to his house and convinced him to stay.

It is an approach to management which is markedly different to that of Giovanni Trapattoni. Yet again, the James McCarthy situation overshadowed events last week with Trapattoni saying there had been no contact with McCarthy despite three weeks of phone calls from the administrative staff at the FAI. He chose not to intervene himself at any point. Wigan have claimed the player is injured and cannot travel as a result, but he was fully fit throughout the period he was blanking the phone calls. Trapattoni has still to speak to the player directly.

I know many Ireland supporters of the view that players who do not show full commitment to the squad should not be considered for selection, and certainly shouldn't be pursued by the manager to get involved. Following that approach ensures a lesser quality panel from which to select a team capable of success. There are players who need persuasion to play or encouragement to declare availability, but we do not seem to have a manager with the capability or the intention to do either.

It appears that is not his only failing. The latest revelation that he was unaware of Ian Harte's eligibility is perhaps the most astonishing of all. A player with 63 caps who had appeared in the 2002 World Cup finals was unknown to the international manager until a member of the squad pointed it out to him. There is no way to interpret this fact other than to suggest he is either too lazy to do what is required of him in his role, or simply not up to the task. He has an impressive cv and tremendous experience, but he appears to strengthen claims that he is unsuitable for this job every time the squad gets together.

The pool of players available to any Republic of Ireland manager is limited enough at the best of times, but you would expect him to at least be aware of those in contention. He continues to opt against travelling to any games in England, preferring to view DVD footage from his home in Italy. He can make reference to the hunger and personalities of those he has worked with in the past all he likes, but the only attitudes which are relevant these days are those of the players he can select. Public rants on how he feels about their behaviour ought to be replaced by private conversations directly with them. It often takes diplomacy, patience and understanding, but all three are traits he has yet to show since he took over in 2008.

Disputes and disagreements are very much a part of every dressing room, but the majority of what occurs remains with those involved. There are very few examples I can think of in which situations were improved or problems resolved by going public. There is nothing to be served by criticising players to the press other than to drive a further wedge between them personally and invite public discussions about whether he has any influence on them at all. There are players who show up for every game, whether in contention to play or not, but it is not

these players who will ever test the abilities of a manager. There have been several incidents which have provided Trapattoni with opportunities to show the management that brought so much success at club level, but on most occasions he has been found wanting.

This is not solely due to the benefit of hindsight, but the decision to name Marc Wilson in the starting line-up a day before the game with Northern Ireland beggared belief. When he failed to show up for the game at all, it either exposed yet another breakdown in communication between Trapattoni and all those around him or pointed to a lack of respect among the players towards the man himself. Either way, it is cause for great concern.

A draw this afternoon would be enough to win the Carling Cup of Nations. If Ireland are successful, there will be countless references to momentum, confidence, consistency and self-belief. I can think of another word altogether to describe the environment created by Trapattoni's style of man-management, his personality, his outdated beliefs and his inability to communicate effectively: shambles.


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