Giovanni, What Were You Thinking?
There`s been a lot of talk recently about the performances of the Republic of Ireland team in the ongoing Euro 2012 Championships.
I watched their first two games and was slightly surprised at how rigid the formation was with little in the way of flair.
The ROI manager is the much travelled and well-respected Giovanni Trapattoni, who has a massive experience on which to call at both club and international level.
The ROI qualified for this tournament via the play-offs and this was their first for some years.
As a Norwich City fan I was perplexed at why Wes Hoolahan and also Anthony Pilkington weren`t given a try in the warm up matches.
Both of these players have been brilliant for City in last season`s Premier League and I can`t imagine that Trapattoni has many players plying their trade in the PL from which to choose.
The Croatians gave the ROI a torrid time after scoring very early. Sean St.Ledger pulled one back from a set piece but this was to be their only goal of the Championships.
The problem seems to be a lack of flair or invention of any description.
Trapattoni stated that he intended to use the players that had qualified and I can understand that, but surely there`s always room for a surprise in the squad.
England chose Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as their surprise package, a player who has proved he can change a game at Arsenal last season.
I cannot understand why the ROI would not consider Wes Hoolahan in the same way.
Wes is getting on now at age 29 but is still playing wonderful football. He is the most skilful player at Norwich City and very tricky on the ball.
He can pick a pass and score you a goal, but still his phone didn`t ring.
As I watched the ROI`s game against Spain I was left feeling very sorry for the Irish players and their fans.
The Spanish team are phenomenal, as we all know and the reigning European and World Champions. But the Irish literally had nothing in their locker.
When they did get possession of the ball, the Spaniards hunted them down in packs, forcing errors and winning the ball back.
Put simply, they couldn`t retain the ball. Now, I`m not saying that Wes would`ve been the answer to Iniesta, Xavi, Alonso and Busquets but, he`s the closest thing that I can see the Irish have to being able to hold onto the ball and do something with it.
As the game wore on and the goals went in, the staggering enormity of the problem was emphasised when Trapattoni brought on Paul Green.
Green was called up when Keith Fahey was injured prior to the tournament. Paul Green used to play in midfield for Derby County, but they`ve just released him - he is currently without a club…
I mean no disrespect to Green, Derby County or the ROI, but, to not call up Wes Hoolahan is, to my mind, utterly ridiculous.
Pilkington was also available but over looked. Another good player who proved he could compete on equal terms in the English PL.
Roy Keane has already slated the Irish fans for their lack of expectation and he reckons that feeling rubs off on the team as well.
From hearing the fans` and Trapattoni`s reaction, it is clear what they all think of Keane.
I should also point out that he`s no friend of mine. But, I respect what he did as a player at Man Utd - he was a winner and after seeing him on ITV the other night when asked about this subject, he clearly is still passionate about winning.
But this is the ROI`s loss and Norwich City`s gain.
Two of our best players will have had a relaxing summer watching a bit of footy on the TV and will be well rested for the season ahead.
So, thank you Mr Trapattoni for not picking the Norwich City Irish contingent, you have inadvertently helped Chris Hughton (who played for the ROI) have a fully fit Hoolahan and Pilkington for the labours ahead.