It was the calm after the storm.
On Monday night in Budapest,
the thunder and lightning which caused a delay in the kick off of Hungary’s game against Ireland found an echo in Giovanni Trapattoni’s post-match press conference as, not for the first time in his reign as Ireland manager, a breakdown in communication led to tempers fraying a little on both sides of the top table.
But yesterday afternoon, at Ireland’s training ground in Gdynia, all was sweetness and light again, as the manager met the press in one of the stadium’s dressing rooms for a rather more informal exchange which provided some much needed clarity and illumination.
And the main points to come out of it were that Giovanni Trapattoni — contrary to the confusing signals sent out by him on Monday night — is indeed sticking to his first choice side for the opening European Championship game against Croatia in Poznan next Sunday.
However, the manager did expand on the possibility of tweaking his system, in particular for the game against Spain, a move which would effectively see Ireland adopt a 4-5-1 system with one of the strikers — most likely Robbie Keane, though he didn’t rule out Kevin Doyle — being asked to drop back to bolster midfield.
And the other news of the day was that, despite being rested for yesterday’s light training session, both Shay Given and Glenn Whelan are fully fit.
On the subject of learning lessons from the chasing which Hungary gave the Irish at times on Monday night, Trapattoni said he needed to use the next few days with his players to try to ensure they don’t let the same thing happen again in the much more important games to come. "I have to clarify with the team that we need to work together to prevent this situation," he said. "We must not give the opponent the midfield. But that doesn’t mean that we’re going to drop someone. It’s a question of deciding whether we need someone to play in midfield or up front. Yes we could have an extra player in midfield but we don’t need to if the strikers do their work"
But if Ireland do elect to play with one out-and-out striker, Trapattoni suggested that it will put an extra onus on the wing men, Damien Duff and Aiden McGeady, to add to Ireland ’s goal threat. We have two offensive players in McGeady and Duff, two important players," he said. "If you play with only one striker, the wingers need to come inside sometimes and have a strike on goal. But in England they have not this habit. In Italy, it’s normal for wingers to score goals."
Trapattoni also stressed the importance of a wholly committed team effort, in essence reaffirming the core principle of one for all and all for one.
"All the players must work because if we have another situation like the one we had against Hungary, we must have another attitude," he said. "When we come up against teams who play with an extra man in midfield, then we find it a little bit difficult. It’s clear when there is only one ball that when you need to attack, then everybody has to attack and when you defend, everyone has to defend. There is only one ball."
And he offered an example from the past of one unnamed player whose indifference to losing the ball caused his team to lose not only a goal but a game.
"I saw many games of the Irish team before I came here," he said. "One of my players I asked him, why when you have the ball and attack, after you lose the ball your opponent gets the ball, goes, goes, makes a cross and you lose the game.
"Where were you? You stayed up front without the ball and the others scored a goal while you were like Pontius Pilate. If this player goes back and doesn’t allow him to make a cross then it wouldn’t have been a goal."
The little details. The team taking precedence over the individual. The virtues of an honest day’s work.
In the calm after the storm, this was Giovanni Trapattoni getting back to basics and insisting that his team do the same.