Thursday, March 1, 2012

A tale of two managers - Trap vs. Psycho

 A tale of two managers in last night’s international friendlies, but who learned the most and who stands in a better position as the countdown to Euro 2012 continues.

The Ireland match against the Czech Republic was a boring, virtual non-event where very little surprises awaited the 37,000 odd supporters in the Aviva stadium or the thousands of people watching at home. Even the much called for debut of James McClean was slightly tainted by the fact that the former League of Ireland man was only brought on for the last ten minutes. Typical of a style that we have come to expect of Trapattoni there were very few surprises for this game.

Across the water Stuart Pearce had taken the helm of an England squad that was not just bereft of stars due to various degrees of injuries, but also suffering a crisis that many commentators of the English team seem to be wilfully ignoring. Fabio Capello’s departure being greeted with an almost sigh of relief by all interested parties who have taken Harry Redknapp to their hearts proclaiming him the saviour reborn. So England fielded a very inexperienced team with a big question mark (looking remarkably like the Spurs crest) hanging over their collective heads.

The Irish team of seasoned campaigners, who have played nearly three years under Trapattoni, managed to secure a draw after going a goal down. The goal was a dreadful one for the defence as they all seemed to drift across towards the left leaving Milan Baros with enough time and space to finish smartly past Shay Given.  Later, after the introduction of a scatter of Irish substitutes, Simon Cox took a well won ball from Keith Andrews, fooled a Czech defender with a nice nutmeg and finished smartly into Petr Cech’s goal.

In the England match Pearce’s team of fresh faces, with an even fresher captain, fell behind two nil to a classy looking Dutch team. A very brave and well taken goal by Klaas-Jan Huntelaar ended up with the Dutch man having a bite of Wembley turf and leaving the game after a brief but fruitful cameo. Arjen Robben’s first goal came from a vintage counter attack which left the English boys panting. But in fairness the boys became men and in typical Psycho fashion they never gave up and looked at least of having secured the draw after first Gary Cahill scored and then a late effort from Ashley Young .  But Robben , the man who was not good enough for Chelsea,  popped up a couple of minutes later to slot home the winner .

The Irish game was a slow dogged affair with absolutely no life in it. It was like being forced to watch a DVD of your dad’s favourite comedian over and over again. At the start you get the jokes, find them funny and see why your dad likes it but after the fourth or fifth time of watching you are starting to wonder why he doesn’t put something else on or worse yet maybe he just doesn’t know about anything else.

Psycho’s performance or interview as England manager was decent enough. The game was entertaining, he had the players seemingly play for pride and love of flag and country, and there was a bunch of fresh faces given a chance to show what they could do. A lot of the young men on the field  should have long and, who knows, maybe even successful international careers. Different tactics were tried and as I said the game was entertaining.

The main difference between the two is that Trapattoni came away with a result while Pearce did not. The question that I will now ask is which is more important? Trappatoni’s insistence on competing fully in each game to maintain a series of results in the hope of building up morale and self-confidence which might give the Irish squad enough momentum to pull off a few shocks this summer. Or the English system of bedding in players so as the new manager can decide which players are suitable and have the calibre to become successful top-class international superstars who can actually go on to win the tournament.

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