Caught in a Trap: He doesn't watch games and fights his stars but Ireland can't sack Gio
22:02 GMT, 14 October 2012
He hasn’t just lost the dressing room, Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni has lost an entire nation.
In the space of five painful months for Irish football, the legendary Italian coach has watched his team capitulate on the big stage and on Friday night they suffered their heaviest and most embarrassing home defeat in history — 6-1 by Germany.
So where has it all gone wrong Well, if you thought things were bad for England under Fabio Capello, try four-plus years with Trapattoni for Ireland’s players.
Trouble: Giovanni Trapattoni (right) has alienated many players
He doesn’t watch Premier League games, but stays in his Milan apartment with wife Paola, relying on reports from his London-based assistant Marco Tardelli, and clips from satellite TV and DVDs.
He barely communicates with his players and, due to his limited English, when he does he makes little sense or falls out with them.
When Ireland took to the field for the first Euro 2012 finals match against Croatia in June it was on the back of a 14-game unbeaten run which included 11 clean sheets.
It took just three minutes for all that good work to unravel and make a mockery of the cash-strapped FAI’s decision to reward Trapattoni and Tardelli with new two-year contracts worth a combined 2million.
When Trapattoni took over from Steve Staunton, Ireland were ranked 42nd in the world and it was a considerable coup for the FAI to land the services of one of the most decorated coaches in European football, whose c.v. includes Italy, AC Milan, Juventus and Bayern Munich. They had the financial backing of billionaire Denis O’Brien to fund the wages but now they can’t afford to sack him.
Trapattoni made an immediate impact on
players who were looking for experience and guidance. They reached the
World Cup 2010 qualifying play-offs only to be denied by the hand of
He may not have been able to speak
coherent English — it’s a strange combination of Italian, German and
English known as ‘Trappish’ — but then he had Liam Brady alongside him
to interpret. Brady left his post two years ago and has never been
His press conferences are still
baffling. If he can’t be understood by the media, what chance have his
players got This week he was accused of abandoning his team before,
during and after the humiliation against Germany, and leaving his
players and injured captain Robbie Keane to carry out team
Embarrassment: Joachim Low's Germany beat Ireland 6-1
‘Giovanni hardly says anything to the team and very rarely speaks at half-time,’ said former Ireland winger Kevin Kilbane. ‘He certainly doesn’t do anything on an individual level so if a player is doing something wrong or right, he will hardly ever tell them.’
Key to the original transformation was the rigid defensive system he introduced which got the best out of the likes of Sean St Ledger and Glenn Whelan. He helped extend the international career of Keane — a player Tardelli had ruthlessly abandoned at Inter Milan — and improved inconsistent performers like Aiden McGeady and Richard Dunne.
But there were inevitably victims
along the way and players whose international careers have been halted
by the callous Trapattoni.
There were talented men like Andy
Reid, thrown on the Irish scrapheap because he played his guitar too
late and too loud in a German hotel, or the maverick Stephen Ireland.
The list of players Trapattoni has fallen out with includes Liam
Lawrence, Joe Murphy, Darron Gibson and Stephen Hunt.
Perhaps the cruellest cut of them all
was Wolves’ Kevin Foley who was ejected from the Euro 2012 squad on the
eve of departure from the training camp in Italy.
Axed: Kevin Foley (left) was brutally cut from the Ireland squad
The beginning of the problems for Trapattoni’s reign came in the Tuscan spa town of Montecatini.
While Trapattoni high-fived with local dignitaries, his unhappy players stewed in their antiquated hotel.
Fed up with his repetitive training sessions and military planning, by the time they arrived in Poland they were on the cusp of rebellion. Their surrender in the European Championship, admittedly against the might of Italy and Spain, was hardly a surprise.
Since then, Shay Given and Duff have retired and Gibson has announced his non-availability. Sunderland’s talented winger James McClean became the latest to fall out with the manager after he was inexplicably left out of the side which played poorly in Kazakhstan last month.
McClean is not in this squad because he is injured, but there is every chance he will be fit enough to start Sunday’s Wear-Tyne derby.
When they qualified for the Euros nearly a year ago, Trapattoni could have been awarded the freedom of the entire Republic of Ireland. Now, they can’t wait to see the back of him.
Admission: John O'Shea conceded the fans had a reason for booing
John O’Shea admitted the fans had a point when they jeered the team and manager after the Germany defeat. He said: 'I would say that they were exactly right to do it – I’m surprised the whole stadium did not do it when you lose 6-1.
'When you come to watch a team to try to get a win and it loses 6-1, it’s not the result that you want and you are not going to be happy.
'Thankfully this game has come around really quickly and we can get three qualifying points towards qualifying for the World Cup.
'Obviously we are still massively disappointed by how it went the other night. This game comes around fast and if we get the win then we will have six points from two games.
'We cannot forget about the other night but hopefully we can move on from it.'