The Bellissimo Game

Giovanni Trapattoni's wealth of experience is exactly what Ireland need.

At the time of going to press, Giovanni Trapattoni is almost certain to be appointed as Ireland manager. Obviously, he’s someone who comes with huge experience, which is what people seem to be looking for in managers these days, even in the Premiership. There are very few jobs being offered to young men, and we ourselves have just come from having an inexperienced manager in Steve Staunton, so it’s a full swing of the pendulum.

There are no guarantees with any manager. All we know is that the guy comes with a very good CV, and will have a very Continental style of play. I actually met Trapattoni once, when I was at Aston Villa. We played at Wimbledon and he came to the game with Liam Brady. Afterwards, Liam came to say hello and Trapattoni was with him. Liam always spoke very highly of Trapattoni, who I think made a big mark on his career.

I think, in the back of his mind, Liam always felt that at some point they might end up working together. Liam played under him and has remained friends with him, so I’m sure he’ll play a major role. Some people might question whether Trapattoni’s defensive style of play is suited to Irish teams, but we had a few harsh lessons in that department in our last campaign.

Trapattoni might take a more cautious approach, and Irish fans may have to be understanding of that, like English fans will have to be understanding of Capello’s style. Over the past six years or so, Irish teams have looked very vulnerable defensively, and it’s an area where we need to make a dramatic improvement.

It’s interesting also that despite his incredible record in club management, Trapattoni’s spell in charge of Italy wasn’t generally considered a success. But expectations in Italy are very different to what they are in Ireland. We’re not going to win European Championships or World Cups. Our aim is to qualify, and if we do, to maybe cause one or two upsets.

Trapattoni has achieved a huge amount in management, and the FAI committee obviously believe he’s the man who can get us qualifying for the major tournaments again. Let’s hope it pans out that way. You certainly couldn't accuse the man of lacking passion. For proof, just take a look at "trapattoni - subtitled" on youtube....

The other big development over the past couple of weeks was the FA’s proposal to play ten Premiership games abroad each season. Personally, I don’t welcome it. It’s a moneymaking move. Recently, we had Luton playing Bournemouth – a fixture between two clubs in administration. The teams at the top end in football are creaming everything. The decision to play Premiership games abroad is just one more example of that.

I don’t understand what a 39th game is all about. If the 39th game was to be played between Liverpool and Chelsea tomorrow in the USA, you wouldn’t get more than a 5,000 attendance, even if The Beatles provided the half-time entertainment. Also, if you end the season with seeded top teams playing sides from the bottom half of the table, it goes against what the league should be about. I understand that football has to evolve and new ideas have to be introduced, but that’s one I’m against.

Also on the Premiership front, it was very interesting to see Man Utd lose to Man City at Old Trafford. Alex Ferguson didn’t make a masterstroke during the transfer window like he did last year, when he bought Henrik Larsson. I’ve always thought that a club like United should have a player who can offer them something very different; a big, physical centre forward who’ll give them another dimension. During the derby game, Tevez was in the pocket of Richards and Dunne, and Ronaldo also struggled to make any impact.

If you have to end the match with Vidic going up front, you should have got that kind of player in during the window. Even if it’s an Emile Heskey, you go after him. He may only play for the team five times in the season, but if he helps you win the title – like Larsson did last year – then bring him in.

Finally, some have suggested Kevin Keegan is starting to look a little shaky again following Newcastle’s recent results. It’s very hard to judge Keegan on the side’s current form, as it’s not really his team. Also, during the period he’s been at the club, they’ve played Arsenal away twice – so the criticism has been a little bit harsh. He’ll certainly have to get more out of the players than he has to date. But overall, the quality of player at his disposal is not good enough for them to do really well.

He’s said he feels he can keep them up, after which he’ll be free to rebuild in the summer. And that’s fair enough. He seems to be cannon fodder for the media at the moment, but Newcastle were in serious trouble long before Keegan arrived.

 

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