Ireland Football: Giovanni Trapattoni Gets Off to Encouraging Start

Andrew BarrySenior Analyst IMay 27, 2008

The first thing that must be said about the Republic of Ireland's opening friendly international against Serbia was that we didn't lose.

On another day with another manager, we might have.

Anyone watching and listening to Giovanni Trapattoni over the last month will have heard him say a few significant things—he's no miracle worker and he won't be changing much.

These things take time and it's something I've always stressed. You can't make things right over night and anyone who tries to do that will fail.

Admittedly, the game against Serbia was notable for the number of long balls hit out of defence by Irish shirts but I'm sure that's not really what Trapattoni was after. There were reasons for it that were dictated by circumstances. If your full-backs don't have anyone in midfield to pass to, the natural reaction is to hit it long.

Trapattoni was working without about a half dozen of his best players and that cannot be ignored. The lads who played and worked with him in Portugal were enthusiastic and committed but it's unlikely we'll be seeing them in such prominent roles in the Autumn when the real work begins.

In my experience when you are trying to fix something in players' minds, they might tell you on the training pitch that they understand exactly what you're saying but it's a different matter when they are on a pitch with 40,000 people watching.

The best way to view the Serbia game was that the players were awake right to the death and a bit of quick thinking created Andy Keogh's third goal under Trapattoni. Try telling him that the last ten days have been a pointless exercise.

After the game, Trapattoni had to answer some questions about Liam Brady and issues surrounding the back-up provided by the FAI. 

I think Liam's role must be clarified for people. Trapattoni and Marco Tardelli for me are the main men and Liam is an assistant. I read what Brian Kerr had to say at the weekend and I must say, I thought the article was just a bit mischievous.

Whether Liam is getting on with the players or not is an internal matter and as Brian knows well, it's always better to keep things within the squad.

He wasn't too keen on leaks himself, if I remember correctly.

The issues that are being raised about how well Liam deals with the players are, for me, a lot of fuss about nothing. Sure there will be players in the squad who are uncomfortable with some of the criticism over the years but I genuinely don't believe it's having any impact.

On the subject of the kit, well we all know what can happen when details like that are not looked after and I have to say that the problems they've been experiencing should never have happened.

It's vital that preparation is well supported but for the moment, while acknowledging that this is in an issue that the FAI must get right and quickly, it's reasonable to give the benefit of the doubt in that area and look at it again in August.

In between, Trapattoni has a game against Colombia to continue the process of change, however small and I feel it's a good thing that this game is in London. An away fixture against decent opposition will tell Trapattoni even more about how well his message is getting through than the showpiece nature of his first home fixture as Irish boss.