Trap should do more to spread the football gospel in Ireland


SOCCER ANALYSIS:I’m happy the esteemed board of the FAI decided to stick with Giovanni Trapattoni. I’m glad to avoid the inevitable months of speculation, intrigue and farce that comes when seeking a new Ireland manager.

So, what now for Trapattoni? Maybe he can renew his old ways. Go back to the basics of management he seemed so close to perfecting once upon a time. Or maybe not. We continue to beat the same old drum, but let’s look at the best “old school” managers plying their trade in England. Alex Ferguson, David Moyes, Sam Allardyce and Chris Hughton spring to mind.

These managers are either brilliant scouts or surround themselves with such men. They watch the opposition like hawks. They also communicate well with all and sundry in the game.

Look at Ferguson’s signing of Robin van Persie last summer. He simply kept open a line of communication with Arsene Wenger. That can’t have been easy.

Trap still argues the value of staying at home, watching DVDs, and communicating with players through the media and the FAI. When nudged to attend a live game what happened? Wes Hoolahan emerged from a four-year exile to get onto the bench for tonight. All those watching Hoolahan’s creative flair blossoming in the Premiership this past year can only wonder why it took so long?

Ten years ago this week we played out a forgettable nil-all draw with Greece in Athens on a terrible pitch in front of just 4,000 spectators.

Mick McCarthy had resigned after the defeats in Moscow and at home to Switzerland so a peculiar FAI process spear-headed by Bryan Hamilton, the former Northern Ireland manager, was under way.

A gang of players who starred in the previous summer’s World Cup were not present in Athens. Again, sounds familiar.

At least the presence of Richard Dunne, John O’Shea, Gary Doherty, Stephen McPhail and the League of Ireland’s hottest striker, Glen Crowe, made it feel like the start of something.

Only O’Shea remains tonight.

I watched that game as Ireland’s youth team coach, preparing for our third successive Under-20 World Cup, not really believing the FAI would trust me with the senior position if I applied. However, within a few months I had the job.By July 2005 I was a couple of years into my stint as Ireland manager and I had another new boss in John Delaney. He requested a meeting to review and discuss my stewardship of the national team.

We were still in contention to qualify for the World Cup in Germany, unbeaten with crucial matches against France, Cyprus and Switzerland coming up.

Personal development

Delaney suggested I meet with a newly-recruited consultant who could help with my personal development. I was, of course, open to a bit of personal development but this sounded a little airy fairy. I was informed the man might be able to help me in the area of conflict resolution.

I could only laugh. The wounds from Saipan were still festering, but at least Roy had returned to the squad, but conflict resolution! Please.

If Delaney and Trapattoni were to have a similar review – maybe they have, maybe they have not – I hope Delaney asked more from Trap than attending some club games in England.

The Italian’s latest excuse is there’s no guarantee the Irish players will be playing. How about contacting the managers yourself, Trap? They would appreciate your call. I would be confident they would ensure you would not make a wasted journey. And Marco Tardelli could take in a second game on the same day.

Here’s another suggestion Delaney may or may not have come up with: come to Ireland more often to get a feel for what’s happening on the ground. It’s a shame you missed the FAI Cup final the other week. It was a cracker.

More importantly, we want to see you at the Kennedy Cup in the University of Limerick next June. This under-14 tournament brings together the great and good football people in Ireland. Thirty two leagues from around the country all send their best players. Imagine what your presence would do for the young players?

How about coming to several FAI coaching course to inspire our young coaches? We know you struggle to get your message across via the media but you are adamant the players understand everything on the training pitch. Our coaches would benefit greatly from a detailed session.

Step in right direction

Just like Noel O’Reilly inspired Pat Fenlon – Hibs are top of the SPL this week – Curtis Fleming, Trevor Croly and so many other young coaches. Yesterday’s Q and A with the Pro Licence coaches was a step in the right direction.

Anyway, Trap, if you need a dig-out on the conflict resolution with say, Darron Gibson, Kevin Foley, Stephen Ireland, Stephen Reid or even Andy Reid (who could be worth another look) the FAI can always supply an expert in that field to assist you. My meeting with the man was about as useful as drinking soup with a fork but maybe times have changed.

Job one, Trap, is to win games and then endeavour to spread the football gospel in Ireland. It would save you having to climb Croagh Patrick next year.

PS: Shane Long is the man, whether it be on DVD or in the flesh. Finally, you are letting him out of the bag tonight.

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