Connacht Tribune - Opinion Piece
Media left with red faces over Trapattoni’s troublesOctober 24, 2012 - 8:20am
THE media is often left with egg on its face over delivering premature verdicts on topical sporting controversies, but it’s doubtful if the fourth estate has ever called it as badly wrong as when jumping to sweeping conclusions about Giovanni Trapattoni’s future – or more precisely, the lack of it – as the Republic of Ireland team manager.
Some of the press commentary on the 73-year-old Italian’ perceived imminent departure bordered on the nasty and displayed a shocking lack of objectivity. We don’t expect much from the Red Tops (the tabloids) in the way of rational reporting when it comes to under-fire team managers in soccer, but the Irish Independent was even more offside in its handling of the Trapattoni crux.
Apart from calling it totally wrong about his future, the newspaper’s soccer scribes appear to relish sounding the death knell for Trapattoni’s reign. The Irish Independent stated unequivocally that he would be gone after the Faro Islands match and even had begun speculation on his likely successor, with Harry Rednapp commanding top billing in one of last week’s editions.
The newspaper also accused the Irish manager of being “shameless” by refusing to resign after what was admittedly an awful result in the home World Cup qualifier against Germany, and was clearly setting the sack Trapattoni agenda. That was an appalling allegation to make and the Irish Independent’s overall coverage of the controversy was disappointing, even if their reporting was seemingly influenced by a high up FAI source.
The media, in general, had turned against Trapattoni and his assistant, Marco Tardelli, and having delivered a damning verdict on their management, expected that John Delaney and his colleagues in the FAI corridors of power would bite the bullet and call time on the reign of their Italian imports. The fact that didn’t happen must leave some journalists, particularly those in the Irish Independent stable, embarrassed and undermined.
Of course, Ireland’s governing soccer body has now been accused of putting financial considerations ahead of the welfare of the team, but that is a very convenient argument for the media to make. There are also suggestions that senior players, like Robbie Keane, voiced their support of Trapattoni to the FAI and that had an influence too in saving him from getting the bullet. No matter, the press can’t have it every way.
The realities are that Trapattoni’s contract is up in the summer of 2014 – not that far away – Ireland is still in contention to qualify for the World Cup in Brazil and there is also a general recognition that, currently, we simply don’t possess anywhere near the quality of players who backboned the Jack Charlton era. Changing the manager now would lead to a lot of upheaval in the middle of a campaign.
Furthermore, had the FAI given Trapattoni his walking papers after the 4-1 victory over the minnows from Faroe Islands, it would surely have looked odd to say the least from an international perspective. After the trouncing by Germany, if player morale was as low as we were led to believe, there is no way Ireland would have produced such a committed and spirited effort in the football outpost of Torshavn.
We all know that Trapattoni is extremely conservative when it comes to tactics and team selection; that he has needlessly fallen out with players; that he isn’t spending enough time in watching some of his players and prospective call ups in the flesh; and has communication difficulties, but he will surely have learned from this debacle too. At least, Seamus Coleman, Marc Wilson and James McCarthy are now belatedly in the front line, even if injuries may have forced the manager’s hand.
For more, read this week's Connacht Tribune.