|Manuela Spinelli and Giovanni Trapattoni|
A rumor went around last weekend that the great Manuela Spinelli is to leave her part-time role as official translator for Ireland football team boss Giovanni Trapattoni.
The rumor, like so many others to do with the Irish team, was unfounded of course, and Manuela was back at work in Malahide on Monday as Trapattoni kicked off his week with his usual press conference.
Manuela, a very pleasant young lady who is very good at her job, does have her work cut out for her with Trap.
It’s not that his Italian is hard to translate or that his England is that bad. It’s just that he talks gibberish a lot of the time.
My regular reader will know that the Irish football media have long since referred to it as Trappish, a curious mix of English and Italian with the odd bit of German thrown in every now and then for good measure.
Some parts of the job are easy for Manuela. Gio will usually talk of “following” a player at least once in every press conference, normally a player he has long since discarded.
He will often say that a player is in his heart, normally in reference to someone like Andy Reid who will never play for Ireland again for as long as Trap is in charge.
And he will talk of the little details, of character, of personality – all words designed to try and make us believe that he knows more about the game than we do.
He probably does by the way. And he should. He’s not been paid millions of euros by the FAI over the years to know less than we do about association football.
He should know how to beat Sweden in Dublin on Friday night and Austria in Vienna next Saturday. All his experience and all his medals should ensure that he knows how to win both matches in the defining week of his reign as Ireland manager.
Alas, I fear for Trapattoni this coming week. I don’t think the players he has at his current disposal – thanks to his decision to alienate some and ignore others – are good enough to take the four points we need from the next two games to keep our slim qualification hopes for Brazil alive.
At best, we could end up with two points from the two games and be left clutching at straws, not for the first time, when the final group games are played next month.
If that scenario develops on Friday night and next Tuesday, then Manuela won’t have to resign from her job. She won’t have a job after November when Trap’s contract expires.
It is all or nothing for Ireland and the Green Army in the coming days -- and for Trapattoni and his interpreter.