By Ciaran O Raghallaigh
WHAT’S the Italian for Mea Culpa?
Giovanni Trapattoni didn’t even try to hide the truth here in Gdynia, as he faced a hungry press pack looking for answers after Ireland’s disastrous 3-1 defeat to Croatia.
“This morning I watched our game, and I have come to conclusion that we played not good, no as well as Croatia,” Trap said.
Simple English. Simple truth.
The Italian has a habit of explaining away bad performances by focusing on minor points and making a mountain out of a mole hill.
Today, at least, he mostly steered clear of that tactic.
He could have made a big deal of the clear penalty Robbie Keane was denied or the luck involved in two of Croatia’s goals.
But even he decided against that tactic.
“Obviously in terms of performance, Croatia were superior to us,” he admitted.
“The first goal was a little mistake, and to concede in two minutes is very tough psychologically.
“We drew level deservedly but then the second goal was unlucky. I also remain of the same opinion that it was a penalty against Keane.”
But that was that, no room for too many cries of injustice. You won’t find Trap asking for a replay this time.
So to the next game against Spain.
Will you change the team Trap?
“Do you know what you are going to write on Thursday already?” he asked, by way of reply.
“I have to think because I need to clarify it with the team first. I spoke with them about confidence and trust, I need to think a lot.”
So, no news there. But surely there are some players whose performances last night mean they MUST be left out?
“This team achieved qualification so if you are going to make a change there must be an important reason; form or injury,” he said.
“A manager has a great responsibility to the psychology of players, and it is my duty to understand this and give them confidence.”
This point furrowed many brows.
What about the mental state of wingers Stephen Hunt and James McClean, who were left on the bench as Ireland chased the game, while striker Simon Cox went on to play on the wing?
Cox recently admitted that he does not like to play that position at club level with West Brom, and said that if I were to score against England in the knockout stages (unlikely now Si) that he’d shake Roy Hodgson’s hand and remind him ‘that’s where I play, gaffer’.
But Trap wasn’t too bothered.
“I was waiting for this question,” Trap grinned, when Cox was brought up. “Remember when I was asked why I was taking five strikers to the Euros? I said Cox is also a winger, he can play in a three-man attacking formation.”
But he played on the left wing last night, not as part of a forward trio.
“Our wingers don’t score many goals, but Cox can score. His attitude is this, remember against Italy, he score in this position. He’s a good player.”
Ok, what about McClean? A player who’s scoring from the wing in the Premier League? Surely he was worth a shot?
“I have a duty. He has played just two games. Senior, experienced players have tension in tournaments like this – so you can understand how a young player might be.
“We need to give a quiet opportunity to him. It’s a heavy weight on his shoulders.”
But he looks ok in the Premier League Trap?
“What about McGeady and Duff? They don’t play well? Would James change the game? We don’t know. This is our team, our squad, we have the new, and their time will come.”
Just not now, it seems.
Some housework: Richard Dunne has blisters and sat out training, while Shay Given was given the all clear, despite appearing off the boil on Tuesday night.
Bring on the world champions.