Former Irish greats Jason McAteer, Packie Bonner and Phil Babb have jumped to the defense of under-fire Irish soccer boss Giovanni Trapattoni, stating that the Italian should be given more time to attempt to get Ireland to the World Cup finals in Brazil in 2014.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, former Liverpool player Jason McAteer, who scored the goal that gave Ireland an historic victory over Holland in 2001, questioned the caliber of the current Irish team and commended Trapattoni for the work he has done with such a ‘limited’ group of players.
‘It’s a really difficult time for Ireland at the minute. It was exceptional the job he did in getting that squad to the European Championships. I don’t see any great players coming through. The experienced players that Trap has been left with, the likes of Andrews, Doyle, for me have never really been good enough at international level and now they’re having to carry young players who aren’t playing at club level regularly.
‘As much as we’re asking is Trapattoni the right manager, as a manager you’re only as good as the squad you’ve got and I think that he’s got a really weak squad at the minute. I don’t know if any manager is going to be able to come in and change that.’
Speaking to SportsNewsIreland, Phil Babb, who notched up 35 caps in an impressive international career, concurs with this and states that the Irish backroom staff need to ask themselves some key questions before passing blame on to the manager.
‘How far can we take Irish football? What is our long term goal? Are we held back by the coffers? What are we doing at the grassroots level? Do we want to get into the top 20 of world football? What is the long term issue? Is it just to qualify and have a party? I don’t think that’s good enough’.
Former goalkeeper Packie Bonner, most famous for his heroics against Romania at Italia 90, also defended Trapattoni.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, he said, ‘The manager must make his choice about how he plays the game and who plays but the logical thing is if the FAI gave him a contract extension to take us into the World Cup. You’ve got to give him time and that’s the bottom line.’
Where does the term “the luck of the Irish” come from?