It’s back to basics for Trapattoni as Green is given pivotal midfield role
Leeds midfielder will start alongside Whelan against Sweden in World Cup qualifier
For all the talk of grooming talent and shifting styles, Giovanni Trapattoni has rather more pressing business here in Stockholm this evening. After an embarrassing European Championship and a humiliating home defeat by Germany, the 74 year-old must engineer a way for Ireland to emerge from the Friends Arena at full-time with something to show for their efforts. Pride will count for little on this occasion. A point is what is required.
He will point to the away days in Paris, Bari, Moscow and Belgrade as evidence of what he and his players can do on their day and hope he can instil the confidence required to upset Sweden by producing another big one.
In a slight departure from his usual practice of naming his starting line up, the Italian did so but said that he was still unsure about Hull City midfielder Robbie Brady, revealing that he would speak with him again after training and suggesting that he wished to be persuaded by the player himself that he was "psychologically" up to the challenge.
The ploy, it seems, might have intended to focus the 21 year-old on the scale of the responsibility with which he is being entrusted. Sure enough, the pair could be seen deep in conversation out on the pitch and while it unclear last night what the conclusion of the exchange was, the Dubliner is expected to start ahead of Andy Keogh who, Trapattoni confirmed, is currently next in line.
Those sharpening knives for the former Italy boss will watch with interest how it all plays out this evening but the greater controversy in terms of this team selection remains the inclusion of Paul Green at the expense of James McCarthy.
This was the manager's clear statement that he intends the side to get back to basics this evening with the Leeds midfielder expected to hustle and harry in midfield, winning the ball where possible but primarily depriving opponents of the opportunity to use it effectively.
Whether the 29 year-old is really up to the task remains to be seen but Trapattoni clearly sees him as the best bet for the role. McCarthy, it might well be argued, would have helped Ireland keep the ball when they had it but the manager clearly reckons that is a price worth paying on a night when it may prove hard to come by at all for stretches and Zlatan Ibrahimovic's extravagant talent requires come class of counter measure.
Trapattoni was defensive about Green, insisting that he is maligned because of the type of player he is - Gennaro Gattuso and Nobby Stiles sprang to the 74 year-old's mind - while his ability is consistently underestimated. The veteran coach was even prepared to talk down McCarthy in the circumstances, apparently taking exception to the suggestion that he is more creative. "No," he said," "you can not say that. What he does is good but he passes the ball in a linear way (sideways) and in two years time he can be better than Glenn Whelan but he is not creative."