Tuesday, February 21, 2012

McClean wins the Ballon d’Or!

James McClean Ballon d'Or winner?

No not really but that maybe the only way James McClean may get to go to the Euros this summer.

Giovanni Trapattoni’s drastic turnaround in calling up James McClean into the Ireland squad for the upcoming friendly against the Czech Republic is soured slightly by the inclusion of Paul Green. Green is a typical Trap player and is doing well with Derby since his return from injury. A hard working grafter who will do exactly as he is told, he will sit in front of the back four and he will not take any risks going forward. At the moment, though any of the central midfielders, who Trap has already called up, will go to the Euros before Green. 

The wily old Italian is using the presence of Green to show the Irish football public what type of player he values. Inviting Green into the squad at the same time as McClean is a clear statement by Trap that defensive, conservative, solid team players are prized over attack-minded players who are willing to push forward to take chances at the expense, maybe, of losing the ball. 

The football public can scream and shout all they want but trap will not be turned. Seamus Coleman was called into the Irish senior squad in October 2010 for the Russia and Slovakia qualifiers. But Coleman, who was going well with Everton at the time, had to wait four months and three games before he managed to get a game. Even then it was against Wales in the non-event which was the Nations Cup.

Ireland has three friendlies to play between now and the opening game of the tournament. The Czech Republic on the 29th February, Bosnia and Herzegovina on the 26th May and then Hungary on June 4th. The UEFA deadline for the announcement of squads for this summer’s tournament is May 29th. Taking Seamus Coleman’s experience as the framework for being present in Traps plans then I am afraid that there just isn’t enough time or games for McClean to get a ticket to Poland.

So the only hope for James McClean, to stand any chance, is to play even better than he is playing now and outstrip every other Irish player in the world, basically enough.  Not too hard as he is currently doing that already, but that has only merited him a “second thought” call up to a friendly.  So according to Trap’s philosophy McClean will need to win the senior Player of the Year, and maybe even the Ballon d’Or, to even stand a chance of going.

I know I am being at bit harsh on one of the most successful managers of all time and one of only three Irish managers who has brought qualification to a major tournament to these success starved shores. But lest we forget a year ago most of the country was ready to show Trap the door. No one in the media had much confidence in him and undoubtedly his team was very hard to watch. The fact that his playing style has not and will not change has been forgotten in a wash of excitement. This tournament could go either way for Ireland. But the chance of a sudden change in heart for Trapattoni does not bode well.

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