Kelly's statement puts Trapattoni's man management skills in focus again
Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni and Stephen Kelly in seemingly happier times together at a Republic of Ireland press conference in March 2011. photograph: donall farmer/inpho
In the wake of Stephen Kelly’s statement being issued yesterday a reporter from a rival paper put together what he reckoned was a fairly decent team of Irish players that Giovanni Trapattoni has fallen out with, to some degree or another, since he took on his role in 2008, so it’s no great surprise that we find ourselves reflecting on his man management skills again.
To become involved in a public spat with Stephen Ireland, Andy Reid or, most recently, Ian Harte, is one thing though; to have one of the squad’s generally most likeable figures seek a media outlet through which he can let it be widely known he is “disgusted” with you is quite another.
The FAI decided yesterday against issuing a reply from Trapattoni but couldn’t resist gently hanging their manager in a very brief statement.
This, after all, is just the sort of thing that was supposed to have been addressed when peace was made in the wake of the great fumbling in the Faroes.
The Italian was not fired but he was told to smarten up, get along to a few games and stop slaughtering his players at press conferences.
That Kelly should be his latest victim is, on the face of it, surprising but then Trapattoni had previously managed to alienate Steven Reid and antagonise Shane Long.
The former was blameless, the latter not quite so, although he still got all the sympathy when the manager decided to ridicule him in public.
Kelly has, in any case, been just about everything Trapattoni looks for in a squad member: loyal and willing.
The Dubliner is no world-beater but through his versatility and availability, he has racked up 32 caps, most of them under the Italian, who gave him the honour of captaining the side against Uruguay in March 2011.
The former Tottenham and Birmingham City defender started the manager’s first game in charge at right back and there has been at least one spell when he has played more for Ireland than his club side.
In the latter half of 2011 he played in three of Irelands’ final five competitive games, including the remarkable goalless draw in Moscow and the 4-0 play-off win in Estonia.
In every instance, though, other players were missing and so, while he made the squad for the European Championships, with everyone available, he didn’t feature in Poland.
He started the next game, against Serbia, but then came Germany and Trapattoni’s decision to select Séamus Coleman ahead of him at right back.
The Everton player, it seems fair to say, is generally regarded as a more talented player and the manager provided what seemed a reasonable explanation for his decision, that he was looking for someone who might provide more of a threat pushing forward out of defence, but Kelly must have thought he had earned the right to play, that he was next in line and, perhaps worse, that he was being replaced by someone who was likely to stay in once he got in.