GOLEADO is the Italian for goal-glut, the kind of riotous scoreline which can sometimes occur when sharks encounter minnows and a feeding frenzy ensues.
But Giovanni Trapattoni has warned against any complacency on the part of either his players or the home supporters as Ireland prepare to follow their hard-earned Euro 2012 qualifying victory against Armenia with what ought to be much less challenging outing against little Andorra in the first competitive international at the Aviva Stadium tomorrow night.
“I think goleado is not easy in football any more,” the manager said. “But I do hope we can put on a show which is worthy of such a beautiful stadium. It deserves a good show and the atmosphere there will be very important for the players. But while I am confident we will play a good game, I keep repeating to the players: we have not qualified yet. There is no room for complacency. It would be a great mistake to think we’ve already got the result in this game. The players know this. Every game brings a new opponent and the more Ireland go up, the more aggressive the opponent becomes. The opposition cannot ever be underestimated. I can never accept that attitude.”
Trapattoni could legitimately cite Andorra’s creditable achievement in restricting Russia to just a two-goal win on Friday as a timely wake-up call, but then that game was played in the tiny Estadi Comunal in Andorra and, inevitably, more will be expected of the Irish at their soaring new home tomorrow night.
However, Trapattoni’s refusal to take anything for granted, allied to his innate tactical caution, means that, fitness permitting, we are unlikely to see any significant reshuffling of his pack for a game which others might regard as welcome light relief after the lung-bursting intensity of Ireland’s exertions in sweltering Yerevan.
After Paul Green manifestly struggled to get to grips with the midfield role on his competitive debut in Armenia – although Trapattoni continues to insist that the Derby man was much-improved in the second-half – the visit of Andorra might look like a perfect opportunity for Darron Gibson to take a bow but, if the Manchester United man is to see action, it’s more likely it will be only when sprung from the bench.
And, in analysing the players’ competing claims, an impassioned Trapattoni got to the heart of his own tactical approach, illustrating his argument with an example from his own playing career.
“You can change a man, maybe when he is tired or after one hour, but changing the system is not possible,” he stressed. “Or, rather, it is possible but then there are consequences. The players have a habit, they know the system, they know where their roles are, depending on where the ball is.
“Yes, creativity is important but there are other qualities. There is the player who, when his team is on the ball, can play well, pass well, look well. But when the opponent has the ball, he is not aggressive enough. I know this from my own experience playing for Italy. I had a team- mate, Romano Fogli of Bologna, who did not play because the coach chose me. He played very fantastic football and I really estimated him. People asked why the coach picked me and not him. But that Italian team had other fantastic, creative players and they needed someone like me. For protection.
“I like Gibson, he plays beautiful football for a great team. I have heart for Gibson, for all my players. But I think I am right and balanced in my choices despite my affection for individual players. The players are all nice, they are all my sons. When it comes to making these choices, the job of the manager can be a thankless task.”
Having rested up after their long journey through the night from Yerevan, the Irish squad was back on the training pitch at Gannon Park in Malahide yesterday, where assistant manager Marco Tardelli reported that everyone was fit and well and available for selection tomorrow. It had already been confirmed that Damien Duff would miss the match against Andorra but Paul McShane, who received treatment at his club while the team were in Armenia, has now rejoined the camp having fully recovered from a hamstring problem. Tardelli has watched a tape of Andorra’s defeat by Russia and says that, while the Russians might have scored five, the part-timers notched up two decent chances of their own. He also played down Andorra’s reputation for sometimes resorting to roughhouse treatment in a bid to close the quality gap.
“For us it could be dangerous for the yellow cards because (Glenn) Whelan is on one yellow after Armenia,” he said, before quickly adding, “but I have seen DVDs of Andorra and it’s not a problem.”
On the subject of whether it would be prudent to rest the Stoke man tomorrow, Tardelli was non-committal but in response to the suggestion that Trapattoni doesn’t like to change his line-ups if he can help it, the Italian smiled and replied: “You know him well.”
And, like his boss, Tardelli was anxious that no-one should consider tomorrow’s result a foregone conclusion.
“Normally it’s expected to win easily against Andorra but you know football, everything is possible on the pitch,” he said. “Every match is dangerous, and we respect Andorra like we respect every team. So normally it’s possible to win, yes, but I remember Andorra scored against Ireland before at Lansdowne Road.”
That was in 2001 when, astonishingly, the visitors took the lead after half an hour before Mick McCarthy’s side belatedly woke up to secure a 3-1 win. But that was nearly as good as it’s ever gotten for the Andorrans who come to Ireland ranked the seventh lowest team in world football and with just one competitive victory, at home to Macedonia, in their history.
So the Irish fans may be expecting a goleado but, don’t you just know, Trapattoni will have no complaints if Ireland get maximum points with a minimum of goals.
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