Eamon Dunphy believes Giovanni Trapattoni will select younger players for the upcoming friendly against Greece, but that the Republic of Ireland manager will revert to established senior players for the vital qualifier against Sweden next March because the Italian “is not going to change” his conservative philosophy.
Dunphy also said he believed the debate over Trapattoni’s continuing tenure as Ireland manager will be re-ignited if the Irish team loses in Sweden in that March World Cup qualifier, as a loss could prove fatal to Ireland’s chances of making the 2014 tournament in Brazil.
Giovanni Trapattoni is due to announce his squad this morning for the game against Greece on November 14, but one of the team that played in the recent victory against the Faroe Islands has already been ruled out of contention.
Stoke left-back Marc Wilson is definitely out of that clash after he broke his leg last Saturday playing against Sunderland.
Giovanni Trapattoni was at that game in the Britannia Stadium, the second Premier League match he has watched since speculation over his position as Ireland manager reached boiling point following the thrashing at home to Germany last month.
He had already attended Norwich’s win against Arsenal when Wes Hoolahan and Anthony Pilkington were on view.
Both those players are in the frame for the Greece game but speaking at the launch in Dublin last night of Bill O’Herlihy’s autobiography, Dunphy said any experimentation in team selection would likely last for the Greek game and possibly for the friendly against Poland in February.
“My view is that he should be at matches every week,” Dunphy said of Trapattoni’s new policy of attending Premier League games.
“Obviously, if he sees players play a lot he will know a lot more about them, which is the idea, and I suppose I would say Wes Hoolahan will be picked — he has played really well in the last few weeks. Pilkington is a good player, a very useful player, he should be in the squad. Will he [Trapattoni] change? I don’t think so.”
Dunphy’s fellow RTÉ panellist, John Giles, said he hoped Trapattoni would select younger players for the Greece game and take that philosophy forward into next year, but Dunphy said when Ireland take on Sweden in Stockholm he expected the established players to return to the fold.
“I think he is not going to change fundamentally,” he said, “and we won’t know for sure until next March when we play Sweden.
“He will play the youngsters against Greece, probably to get Lansdowne Road full, or fuller, but when it comes to the battle I think he will be conservative.”
Following the win in the Faroes the FAI announced that Trapattoni would be staying on for the duration of the qualifying campaign, although following the Germany game his hold on his job appeared to weaken considerably.
Dunphy, one of the Italian’s fiercest critics, said a loss to Sweden would make qualification unlikely, and could hasten a change of manager.
“If we get beat in Stockholm we are not going to be going to the World Cup. If we don’t go to the World Cup we need a new manager, and we need someone who can fill Lansdowne Road.”
Last night’s book launch was attended by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who described Bill O’Herlihy as “a friend and a mentor” and praised the Corkman’s role as sports anchorman, adding: “Bill has become an institution in so many ways.”
The book, We’ll Leave It There So, was co-written by Irish Examiner sports reporter Ewan MacKenna who last week won the Sports Journalist of the Year award.
Other speakers at the event included Dunphy, who noted O’Herlihy’s “journalistic, inquiring mind” and John Giles.
O’Herlihy himself said when he started as “a callow youth” at the Cork Examiner he never expected to be the subject of a book, and joked: “God said that those who humble themselves will be exalted. He was clearly not talking about Giles and Dunphy.”
The presenter has said his last broadcast will be the World Cup Final in Rio in 2014, after which he will retire from working with what he called “the best football panel on any channel”.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved
More in this section