Communication Scandal Envelops Ireland Setup
Communication problems coupled with player retirements and withdrawals have hampered the plans of Giovanni Trapattoni. The retirement of veterans Shay Given and Damien Duff have become something of a blow to Trap yet the changeover should only be cosmetic as both Keiren Westwood and James McClean are able deputies.
But it is the apparent communication problems within the camp that have Irish fans wondering whether everyone in the panel is pulling in the same direction. Since Trap took the hotseat four years ago many players have come and gone , some willingly and others forced. Four names instantly jump to mind when wondering why the wily Italian’s tenure has been somewhat blighted with miscommunication.
Darren Gibson has pulled out of the Kazakh game citing his disappointment for not featuring at Euro 2012 as the reason behind his decision. Interestingly the Derry born player took his time in making the decision, waiting a number of days after the squad was announced to state his intentions. The in-form Everton star is no doubt riled at the fact that he didn’t feature at Euro 2012 and some reports even go as far as saying he almost walked out on the team during the tournament. While that may be mere speculation, Gibson is the latest in a line of players who have become fed up with the Italian’s antics.
You have to cast your mind back to the early days of the Trap era to see the apparent communication problems that ultimately led to the end of Andy Reid’s international career. The former Milan supremo imposed a curfew upon the Ireland team, one which was broken by several players including a guitar wielding Reid. His refusal to go to bed saw Trapattoni bring a sudden end to Reid’s once promising international career, a decision that has been met with furore by players and fans alike.
Pre Euro 2012 and post Euro 2012 have thrown up two other miscommunication conundrums which show that even with an interpreter it would appear Trapattoni still fails to get his message across.
Kevin Foley was a member of the Ireland squad which earned qualification for Euro 2012. The Wolves star was initially named in Trap’s squad for the trip to Poland and Ukraine despite picking up a hamstring injury. He was promised he would be given every opportunity to prove his fitness ahead of the tournament yet on the morning of the squad announcement he was cut from the panel and replaced Paul McShane, a move that left him “betrayed” and began a self imposed exile from the Ireland set up.
West Brom star Shane Long is another to have felt the wrath of the Italian in the wake of the recent Serbia friendly. Long was originally named to start in attack but shortly beforehand he was omitted and replaced by Simon Cox. He was furious and initially it appeared Trap’s reasoning was valid, the player was legitimately injured. However Long was quick to reveal he wasn’t , telling reporters after the game that he was perfectly fit to play the full 90 minutes. He would go on to feature for his club a few days later. His omission has raised a lot of questions about the communication skills of the Irish management team. In the days that followed Trapattoni launched a stinging attack on his striker branding him “idiotic”. While the misdemeanours of all involved havn’t resulted in Long’s omission from the squad it has raised many eyebrows amongst fans and media alike.
The communication problems have been further heightened by Gibson’s withdrawal ahead of such a crucial game. Gibson has been assured that he is more than welcome back into the Ireland set up for the Germany game next month yet the Everton star’s personal exclusion may well put an end to his Ireland career as he will fall down the pecking order if he prolongs his absence.
But what fans and the media really want to know and deserve to know is what the hell is going on behind the scenes? It is evidently clear that there are problems yet many are choosing to blow them under the carpet but not Shane Long. He has stood defiant with his actions following the Serbia game and rightly so, no player should suffer the indecency of having to offer a different excuse than that of his manager. Why wasn’t Trap honest about Long’s exclusion?
How can we prepare for such key games and expect to qualify for the World Cup with such turmoil? The FAI need to intervene immediately and eradicate the friction within the panel or else they risk allowing a manager whose pockets are laden with their money ruin the hopes of a nation.