By Ciaran O Raghallaigh in Poland
IT was typical Trapattoni. Some 20 minutes after his squad rewarded almost 14,000 eager fans with a dull, excitement-free training session, the Italian turned it on in the press room.
His squad had gone through a dour mix of two-touch passing drills, a stretching session and some goalkeeper warming-up, but in truth, the Poles who made their way to the Arka’s Municipal Stadium in Gdynia would have had much more fun listening in on the post-match chat.
A UEFA Cup Final from over 30 years ago got a mention, the Champions League final too – and even Pontius Pilate, somehow. Towards the end, he enjoyed a semi-private chat with an Italian journalist, in which he simply pointed at the Irish journalists and proclaimed: “They just don’t get it.”
He was talking about the need to win above all else. Somehow, Trap believes that all Ireland fans and reporters demand the national team play like Barcelona.
Trap might change his beloved 4-4-2
Obviously, this is not quite true – although most would prefer to see something a little easier on the eye. After the scoreless draw in Hungary on Monday night, Trap admitted for the first time that he might consider changing his beloved 4-4-2 formation.
Another body in midfield should at least give Richard Dunne a breather, but by the end of this evening’s press conference, we were none the wiser as to whether Trap is changing or not.
“If you need to be here instead of there, then you have to be here, not there,” he said, at one stage. (No, me neither).
Trying to make sense of it all, Trap appears concerned with the constant demands on his defenders when playing the 4-4-2 formation.
With Ireland enduring games, rather than enjoying them, against better teams, and with Croatia just days away, Trap appears a little rattled.
He mentioned the 1977 UEFA Cup Final, when Juventus withstood immense late pressure from Athletic Bilbao, to hold on and lift the trophy for the first time in the club’s history.
Walters is sticking to the script
“One of our best defenders that night was was our striker,” he recalled, “we spent the last 15 minutes in our box, but we won.”
Once more, the point was clear – the result matters above all else. “It’s clear to us Italians,” he said, “we only try to get the result.”
Jonathan Walters might be drawn into the starting line-up, if Trap changes formation, but nobody in the press room would put money on such a statement.
The striker, for this part, said every player would go along with any change the manager proposed. But then, he was hardly likely to say anything different.
One admission he did make, however, was that Ireland had not yet worked on any other formation.
Given the years put into creating a system that his players could play with “their eyes closed”, as Richard Dunne puts it, it would be almost reckless to change in a matter of days.
The answers aren’t yet clear, but more questions await.
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