not a member? click here to sign up
Caught in a Trap?
Ireland's new boss is receiving a lot of flack over his selection policies. But as long as he continues to get the right results, there's no reason why he should bow to his critics.
Tony Cascarino, 26 Nov 2008
Giovanni Trapattoni seems to have come in for a bit of criticism over his squad selection lately. The accusations are: that he doesn’t attend enough games, he can’t get a full picture of what the players are capable of just by watching DVDs, and he clearly has his favourites and players that he just doesn’t rate. There’s no room for Noel Hunt, Andy Reid, Rory Delap or Lee Carsley; on the other hand, lads like Caleb Folan, Alex Bruce, Damien Delaney, Anthony Stokes, Shane Long and Andy Keogh are almost fixtures in the squad.
The thing is, Trap has been getting the results – so far – and we can’t moan or complain as long as that’s the case. We look brighter and better-organised than we did before he took over, and look like we’re becoming hard to beat again. He’s got his own ideas, he’s decided that he wants a certain game-plan and he’s picking players to fit that system. We have to accept his judgement. He’s chosen to ignore certain kinds of players, and I don’t have a problem with that. All the best managers know exactly what they want from their teams: it’s clear that he’s the same, and has a definite idea what he wants. Big Jack was the same: he was known for doing things that seemed a bit off-the-wall, he had a very fixed idea of how he wanted us to play, and it was successful. That meant sacrificing Liam Brady’s creative talent to an extent. Now you have a similar situation with Andy Reid.
And I agree with Trap; I wouldn’t pick Andy Reid. He can’t run, and he’s completely immobile when we don’t have the ball. People go on about what great feet he has and how great he is from dead-balls, but 50% of the game – more so, against the very best teams – is about what you do when we don’t have the ball, and how you go about getting it back. That was a serious problem under Staunton. Reid has some great qualities, but he’s not the right player for what he need at the moment. We needed a dramatic change in our approach, to make us tougher to break down, and I’m sure Trap decided exactly that when he saw videos of the last campaign, and realised Reid was one of the main problems. Trap’s vision of what a midfield should be is simple and straightforward: two wide men who can beat their man and send in crosses and have a bit of freedom, two lads in central midfield to shield the back four and do the donkey work, and the full-backs aren’t allowed to cross the half-way line. I can see what he’s thinking, and so far, it’s worked out well. There was a naivety about the team, which he seems to have stamped out. We look more of a man’s team now, much harder to break down. He isn’t necessarily picking the best 11 footballers: he wants the combination which will give us the best chance of winning as many points as we can. That’s his job.