29 November, 2011

Giovanni Trapattoni signs lucrative new Ireland deal; but does he deserve it?

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HAPPY TRAPPY:  new (€1.7m p/a) two year contract with the FAI
            Football Assocation of Ireland Chief Executive John Delaney confirmed today that Giovanni Trapattoni has signed a two year extension to his contract as Republic of Ireland national team manager.  The deal will last until the 2014 World Cup and will see the Italian managing Ireland past his 75th birthday.  The deal is on slightly reduced terms of €1.5million per annum (reduced from €1.7million) and will be 50% subsidised by businessman Denis O'Brien.
Trap's Ireland squad is vastly inferior to Jack Charlton's
Photo:    INPHO
            The big question for me though is;  does Il Gaffer deserve this contract extension?  Yes, Trap brought better organisation and structure (both on and off the pitch) than the shambolic Steve Staunton era - eventhough Stan took far more abuse than the playing legend he was deserved.  Yes, Ireland exceeded their seeding in the qualification campaigns for both the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012.  Having been third seeds for both campaigns;  Ireland ended up finishing second in each group.  Yes, Ireland were very unlucky in the World Cup play-off against France and everyone felt sorry for us, no-one more so than ourselves.  Yes,  Ireland beat what turned out to be a very weak Estonian side to qualify for Euro 2012 and the fact that it's Ireland's first qualification for a major tournament in 10 years (with a squad nowhere near the quality of Jack Charlton's) is certainly an achievement.
Ireland have struggled against major nations under Trap
             However, these bare facts need further assessment.  In the two qualification campaigns Trapattoni has overseen;  Ireland have (competitively) faced sides ranked above them in the FIFA World rankings on six ocassions.  That was in the 2010 qualification campaign against Italy (twice) and France (twice) and then in Euro 2012 qualification against Russia (twice).  Ireland won none of those ties.  Further analysis shows that Ireland drew twice with an Italian side who were clearly past it - as their eventual World Cup campaign illustrated.  Italy were in fact the first defending champions not to claim a single victory at the next World Cup they played in.  Whilst Ireland were unlucky in the World Cup play-off tie against France, that France side showed six months later at the World Cup what a shambolic bunch of mercenary prima donnas they were.  Then in the Euro 2012 campaign;  Ireland were simply hammered home and away by a vastly superior Russian outfit.  Having gone 0-3 ahead at the AVIVA;  Russia decided to go to sleep and let Ireland in for two late goals.   The tie in Moscow will then quite probably be remembered as one of the most one sided games ever not to finish with a double digit victory!  Russia had 26 shots on target in that game compared to the 22 shots of a Netherlands side who beat San Marino 11-0 on the same day!  Only a miraculous performance at the back from Richard Dunne and Shay Given kept the Russians out that day.  The fact that Paul McGrath stated  "Richard Dunne's performance in Moscow was the best I have ever seen by an Irish centre half, including myself"  illustrates a telling point and a (0-0) result which had very little to do with Trapattoni's management abilities.
BIG AT THE BACK: Centre half inspiration Richard Dunne
PHOTO:   Getty Images
           The above paragraph goes some way to illustrating that whilst Ireland under Trapattoni have been better organised (than under Steve Staunton);  Trapattoni has not done anything remotely groundbreaking or world beating.  Also; the Milanese native has been lacking in numerous areas.  The fact that he refuses to attend club games and only assesses oppositions via dvd from his Milan home is a disgrace which should not be allowed by his superiors.  Numerous petty arguments with players and revealing private information along with public criticism of loyal Irish servants (most notably Kevin Doyle) is something which should not have happened.  Showing little motivation to contact his players is also rather disappointing.  Trap's revelation earlier this year that he didn't have star forward James McCarthy's mobile number (and therefore couldn't contact him to assess his injury) was a stunning, if unsurprising revelation.  Then there is Trap's almost total lack of effort at learning the English language and his complete reliance on his translator to communicate with media (and thereby also of course his players). 
Ireland are more organised than under Trap's predecessor
           Whilst I am sure there are other ways Trapattoni's Ireland management has fallen down, I think I have illustrated enough here.  Eventhough many have been overcome with the excitement of Ireland qualifying for next year's European Championship;  I still view Trapattoni as a once great manager who is now a geriatric chancer content to cash in on an easy pension from the FAI and Denis O'Brien.  Overseeing Ireland's successful qualification for Brasil 2014 might help to change my mind though!
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