'Over-the-top' Trapattoni incurs Keano's wrath

Mon, Jun 18, 2012, 01:00

VIEW FROM THE COUCH:SO, HOW many of you missed the key moments in the Czech Republic v Poland, Greece v Russia, Denmark v Germany and Portugal v Hollerlands games while flicking back and forward between a favourite station and one you didn’t even know existed, positioned, as it was, between The Born Again Cookery Channel and Giraffe Planet?

Worst of all, how many of you missed the rather exquisite moment Giorgos Karagounis scored for Greece, while watching Robert Lewandowski tie his bootlaces on the other side? And then while Petr Jiracek was scoring for the Czechs, watching Sokratis Papastathopoulos scratch his left earlobe?

Uefa and Fifa, of course, argue that these final group games have to be played at the same time, so none of the teams will have a permutations advantage and no naughtiness will ensue.

Mr and Mrs, you might remember, had another way of dealing with a similar dilemma, placing either Mr or Mrs in a cubicle, blindfolding them and forcing them to listen to ear-busting music on enormous headphones while the other half revealed their most annoying habit.

Why not then place, say, Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Co in just such a cubicle, blindfolded and earphoned, and then release them to play once the other match is done? That way none of us would be denied 90 minutes of sumptuous football. Mind you, after last night, the Dutch might leave Robben, Sneijder, Huntelaar and Co locked in their cubicles, having revealed their most annoying habit in Euro 2012: screwing up.

It’s hard to credit that some people actually tipped them to win the tournament. Sssh.

But before it was time to miss 50 per cent of the night’s action, RTÉ went over to Tony O’Donoghue to check on how many changes Giovanni Trapattoni had made to his team for the Italian game. Eleven, like Roy Keane urged?

“Just the one,” said Tony, Kevin Doyle back in for Simon Cox.

“So much for the new era,” Bill O’Herlihy sighed, “back to the future,” Kenny Cunningham groaned.

No one was too surprised, though, least of all John Giles – “I’m not surprised, Bill” – but Kenny showed us the line-up he’d have opted for, James McClean and Shane Long in, Robbie Keane, Shay Given and John O’Shea out. “I’m not saying their careers are over, but . . . ,” he said, slightly apologetically.

Over on ITV, meanwhile, Adrian Chiles was asking Roy Keane if he stood by his comments about the Irish team, and wasn’t hugely astounded to learn that the answer was a resounding ‘bloody right I do’. (We’re paraphrasing there, but that’s what his wrinkled forehead said).

Trapattoni, Adrian informed Roy, had a bit of a pop at him yesterday, so while Patrick Vieira and Roberto Martinez put on their helmets, Roy cleared his throat and tried to sit up straight in his wicker chair. (He didn’t succeed, but there’s no shame in that, it wasn’t a ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’ moment – ITV’s pundits have been sinking in those slidy seats since day one).

“I’m surprised because the reaction, as usual, has been over the top. I actually never criticised the manager, I said the players need to change their mentality – and the supporters – so for him to come out and have a dig at me . . . . with all that nonsense, what have I done as a manager . . .”

While most presenters might be drawn to ratings-busting aggro like a cuckoo to anyone’s nest but their own, Adrian tends to be a touch risk averse, but he pushed out the boat and let Roy finish.

“Just because he’s had major success doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be criticised. If Brian Kerr or Steve Staunton were manager of Ireland and their team put on those performances, they would be heavily criticised – but for some reason Trapattoni doesn’t feel he needs to be criticised. And the strange thing is, I didn’t criticise him, so he needs to get his facts right, really.”

Adrian, having now slid off his wicker chair, thanked Roy for his thoughts, and then asked Patrick for his, on the topic of too many egos in the Dutch team.

“Egos are not the issue, they’re not a problem – you can have egos, and I think Roy knows what I’m talking about,” he said.

Adrian and Roberto ran for the ITV bunker. But Roy laughed. Loudly. And listen, if Patrick can make Roy chuckle, anything’s possible. Like Ireland beating Italy (again).

After which, we’ll have the mother of all sing-songs.

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