Play McClean, Trap - ah go on, go on, go on

 

VIEW FROM THE COUCH:IT WAS only Day Five but already tempers were fraying a bit, not just on the streets of Warsaw but also in the studio at Montrose.

“I think it’s bullshit: self-serving bullshit,” said Eamon Dunphy of Giovanni Trapattoni’s suggestion that the team (his players, not the RTÉ panel) needed to seek a bit of “redemption” against Spain. “Yeah,” said Kenny Cunningham. Didi Hamann, sandwiched between the pair, observed the exchange like he might a tennis rally.

So, after a mellow enough start, we were up and running.

Doing the rounds on the interwebs yesterday was a photo of Mrs Doyle pleading with Trapattoni to play James McClean – “Ah go on, go on, go on” – and, as coincidence would have it, McClean was also the topic of RTÉ’s latest social media poll.

“Was Trapattoni right to bring McClean if he did not intend playing him?” asked Bill O’Herlihy. Some time later the result was in. “Seventy-five per cent say yes . . . that’s incorrect: it’s the other way around,” he said, reminding us a little of how the outcome of the first Lisbon treaty referendum was handled. “Sorry about making a mess of that,” he said, but he never called for a recount, which might have been fair.

Anyway, Kenny and Eamon seemed a little exasperated by Trapattoni’s quirkiness, although Didi reminded them that he had done rather well to get the team to Euro 2012, with more than a few half-decent nations doing what we’re doing; watching it all on telly. Still, he called for a bold selection for the Spanish game – the boldest of all decisions being to leave Robbie Keane out. “Drop him?” asked Bill. “I don’t think you can call it dropped,” said Didi, it was more about keeping him fresh for the Italian game. Bill looked a little unconvinced, as Robbie would too, you’d assume, if given the news.

Greece versus the Czech Republic. “I don’t think Greece will be beaten – but they might,” said Eamon, and with that we were handed over to Stephen Alkin who told us the stadium in Wroclaw was “shaped liked a Chinese lantern” but never explained why.

“You were saying earlier you could almost count the number of Greeks in the stadium. It’s a bit like a League of Ireland game,” said Stephen. “A bad League of Ireland game,” Brian Kerr corrected him. Stephen was lucky he didn’t get decked.

Not the most pretty of contests, although Petr Cech, having conceded four goals in his opening game, did, at least, restore the faith of those who have him in their Fantasy Football teams, only making the one howler this time. The trajectory is looking good. We could even be talking a clean sheet against Poland.

Time for a first Euro 2012 visit to Eurosport where our host Stefano Bernabino introduced us to his two very special guests, Patrick Kluivert and Thomas Berthold. Stefano was particularly excited about having Thomas in the studio, reminding us on quite a few occasions that he was a World Cup winner. This made Patrick look a little sad – maybe he was feeling a bit inadequate, with Stefano rubbing it in way, way too much.

Good evening, gentlemen. I hope you are doing vell tonight,” said Thomas, with all the breezy confidence of a World Cup winner.

He was, he said, most impressed so far by Spain, “they played wery well against good team Italy”, and least impressed by . . . we held our breath . . . Greece. Phew. “I zink ze Greek team was in ze locker room. I don’t know what kind of warm-ups they made,” he said. “And I zink ze Czechs deserved to win because they were more present than the other guys.”

“For sure,” said Stefano. “But I can tell you, the two gentlemans, are very much excited for the Netherlands Germany,” he added. Thomas and Patrick beamed.

“We are joined live now by a very Polish correspondent, Monika Tomasik,” said Stefano, not defining quite what “very Polish” meant. “Is Warsaw peaceful as we talk,” he asked. “Now it is peaceful and everything is under control,” said Monika. “However, not more than an hour ago some clashes have erupted here in the way of the march that was organised by Russian fans.” She didn’t look happy about it either, bidding adieu to Stefano by waving her Polish flag somewhat fervidly. Thomas and Patrick gulped.

And with that, the “This is Russia” banner was unfurled in the stadium – awesome, and marginally intimidating. The Poles responded quite passionately to the sight. Curious. Is there a history between the pair?

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