Italian commentators show a deal of sympathy for Trap

Ireland’s World Cup failure had more to do with poor quality of squad, claim newspapers

It depends on where you are coming from, really.

While Michael O'Leary of Ryanair, much of the Irish soccer press corps and many fans, too, are convinced that Italian coach Giovanni Trapattoni bears a heavy responsibility for Ireland's failure to qualify for next summer's World Cup finals in Brazil, news organisations in Trap's native land have been much kinder to him today.

From the moment Trap was appointed to the Irish job, Italian media have followed his every move closely. Thus, the news that he and the FAI had parted ways in the wake of the losses to Sweden and Austria came as no surprise.

Many Italian commentators, however, feel a deal of sympathy for Trap, arguing that Ireland’s World Cup failure had more to do with the poor quality of his squad of journeymen players than with Trap’s age or his alleged tactical or selectional shortcomings.


Thierry incident

Furthermore, nearly all commentators point out that he had already achieved remarkable results with Ireland, qualifying for last summer's European Championship Finals in Ukraine and Poland and missing out on South Africa 2010 thanks only to a Thierry Henry handball.

Turin daily La Stampa put it this way: "Yet again, his Irish critics point the finger at his age. Every Irish paper and TV claims that he was obsessed with playing the same experienced but washed-out players, that he did not experiment enough, that he was too cautious. In reality, though, his squad was no collection of world class players - but the fans do not want to acknowledge this…"

Rome daily La Repubblica touched on a similar theme, saying: "In defence of Trap, you would have to say that he had to make do with players not really up to the quality of predecessors such as…Roy Keane.

"His squad was made up of a mix of immature players, such as Coleman, who never really did it, of experienced but limited players like Dunne and O'Shea in defence, and of guys like Walters of Stoke who were neither one thing nor the other…Even his famous Holy Water could do nothing for that lot."

A number of Italian papers drew attention to remarks made yesterday by O’Leary of Ryanair.

In Bologna for the presentation of new flights into Bologna, the Ryanair chief said: “Look, we’ll do our best to open up Italian airports, but would you do us a favour and take back Trapattoni…And while you’re at it, maybe you could send us a player or too, we need them…”

As for Trap's future, much play is made of a widely quoted statement to the effect that he has no intention of retiring. Indeed, Gazzetta speculates that he came to his "mutually consensual" arrangement with the FAI in order to be free to take on any immediate offers that might come his way.

Gazzetta claims that in the last year, Trap has been sounded out by both Chinese and “African” federations. It is also possible that he might take over a Brazil 2014 finallist at the last moment.

In 2002, Cesare Maldini, father of Paolo and Italian coach at the 1998 World Cup in France, took on a similar late appointment, coaching Paraguay at the South Korea and Japan World Cup finals.

Gazzetta claims Trap (74) could be willing to do something similar, making his vast experience available for one of the less experienced 2014 qualifiers.

As for Ireland, Rome sports daily, Corriere Dello Sport, takes a philosophic line: "Perhaps, the first real complaints against Trap began last year with those three defeats in Poland. Perhaps that was the beginning of the end. But that was hardly fair - after all we're talking about a country of three and a half million people."