In times of such uncertainty it is very easy to be swept away in a sea of scepticism and negativity. If we’re not blaming the politicians, it’s the bankers, or the developers, or those lazy journalists who took their eye off the ball. And don’t get us started on that shower in Frankfurt. Or is it Brussels? It’s easy to lose track if it all. And quite where Angela in Berlin fits into all this we’re not exactly sure. But one thing is clear, she ain’t helping the situation.
Sadly sport has not been spared from this negative attitude. At grounds throughout the country a missed pass or poor shot is met from the terraces with a chorus of boos. While it is clear this, eh, ‘constructive criticism’ demonstrates the passion fans possess and ultimately a desire for their team to achieve; it illustrates the point that these naysayers are everywhere these days.
For this reason I think it is all the more important to recognise when someone has got something spot on. And on Monday, nineteen months after the qualification campaign kicked off, Giovanni Trapattoni did just that.
Despite all the criticism, Trap once managed to do what he has done so often throughout his illustrious 30-year managerial career: silence the doubters. And there has been a lot of them to silence, myself included.
Truly he ticked all boxes and covered all bases with his 23 man squad selection for Euro 2012.
Admittedly James McCarthy’s withdrawal from the squad freed the manager’s hand and ultimately we will never know who was going to miss out on boarding the plane to Poland. It is wrong to speculate (as many papers have done this past week) that James McClean would have missed out if McCarthy had been included.
For me, McClean has been the best Irish player in the Premier League this season and that says a lot when you consider he didn’t make his debut for Sunderland until December. I think even Trap could not fail to be impressed by the Derry man’s obvious talents.
With this in mind I think it is more likely that Keith Fahey is the one who has benefited from James McCarthy’s unfortunate situation. But again this is just guesswork and not the most pertinent issue. Throughout the selection, the manager was faced with tricky decisions. Having used 34 players over the course of the past two years, this meant there would be eleven disappointed Irish men.
Of course some decisions were easier than others. Kevin Kilbane, for all his years of service, has mercifully been put out to the stud – and not a moment too soon.
Others too have fallen by the wayside. In this I include the likes of Keith Treacy (who has remarkably played six times for Ireland – albeit all friendlies), Marc Wilson, Liam Lawrence, Greg Cunningham, Damien Delaney and Ciaran Clark. With these excluded, Trap realistically only had to choose from a panel of 27 - calls for Wes Hoolahan and Anthony Pilkington were never going to be realised at this late stage.
Of these 27, Seamus Coleman is the only who can really feel aggrieved not to have made the squad. He is one of the few of the current crop who can attack with real menace and is currently plying his trade with an English club in the top half of the Premiership.
But he has had a bad year, struggling with injuries and his inclusion would have been unfair on whoever was to miss out.
Coleman is the brightest star in a worryingly beleaguered looking Standby list. Here he is joined by Paul Green who might have thought he was in with a shot having made four appearances during the qualification campaign. Thankfully Trap has seen sense and knows the now clubless Green just isn’t up to the required standard.
Darren Randolph, Paul McShane and the manager’s favourite Andy Keogh complete the standby list. With the exception of Coleman, I think Trap will be hoping he doesn’t have to call any of these up. And so will we!
In some ways the Italian is blessed he didn’t have a wider pack to choose from. The small numbers means his players have all played together before, and will know each other inside out. Perhaps this is one advantage we will have over our opponents. Though it could be argued the seemingly telepathic understanding between some of the Catalonian contingent in the Spanish squad may just trump this!
Regardless however, Trap needs to be commended. Ultimately the inclusion of McClean as well as his decision to bring our five best forwards, as opposed to the customary four, smacks of something much bigger happening here.
Perhaps I’m blinded by ambition, or a new found respect for Trap, but I think the Italian has learned a lot over the course of the past nineteen months. He realises now if we are to get through this most daunting and difficult of groups, we simply must score goals.
Now I don’t expect, a complete reversal in our playing attitude come June 10th. After all, the conservative tactics have brought this far. But I won’t be surprised if we show a little more attacking threat than we have done in the past. The selection suggests Trap believes in the footballing capabilities of his players.
It is time to play football.
And who could complain about that?
Sam joined Extratime for the 2011 season and is now the site's features editor. He is based in Dublin and covers all the clubs in the capital. He is also prone to the odd Drogheda game. If you would like to contact Sam, you can reach him at email@example.com.