Will Trap's Mushroom Ban Be Magical?


GIOVANNI Trapattoni took a fall on Tuesday evening in Podgorica, capital of the relatively new state of Montenegro, and it had nothing to do with the magic mushrooms!

Now before you think I too have been hitting the fantasy fungi, let me explain a thing or two.

The Irish manager, fresh from Saturday's fully deserved if slightly worrying 2-1 win over Georgia in Germany, fell as he went to sit down for the ritual pre-match press conference before the World Cup game against Montenegro 24 hours later.

Trap's fall was captured on camera by the various papers present, and doubtless photos of his accidental slip are already winging their way around the worldwide web.

The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) weren't too happy with the snappers, however, for pointing their cameras in Trap's general direction as he fell to the ground, but the photographers were never going to pass up on such a magical photo opportunity.

This brings us back, rather nicely don't you think, to the magic mushrooms no longer available to the Irish team under the new Italian "schema" so beloved of Trap.

On our way to the pre-match press conference one of our sort discovered an interview with Trapattoni about his Irish experiences in the Italian paper Gazzetta Dello Sport.

The contents of said interview dominated the conversation on a blistering hot afternoon in an Eastern European city none of us had ever visited before, and one we won't be rushing back to if I'm honest.

In the course of his Gazzetta interview, conducted in Italian as opposed to the pigeon English we get, Trap made a number of interesting points. Some of them were worthy, some of them were spot on and some of them were bizarre to say the least.

He argued, for example, that Shay Given is good enough to play Serie A football in Trap's homeland. Fair point. And if Shay moves to one of the big clubs in Italy then at least Trap will go to see him play, seeing as how he doesn't do matches in England as per his agreement with the FAI.

Trap also argued that his frontline partnership of Robbie Keane and Kevin Doyle is good enough to play in the Champions League. No great dissent there.

Then it started to get interesting. As well as claiming that the Irish players had never watched videos of their opponents before, complete nonsense by the way, Trap announced to the world that he has banned mushrooms from the Irish team diet.

Now that got us interested, so much so that later that afternoon one of our radio sort asked Trap about the ban on mushrooms as Robbie Keane, sitting alongside the new gaffer, made a joke about mushrooms of a magical variety.

Being the great entertainer that he is in such situations, Trap pointed out that various footballers from various countries have their own way of doing things, habits he calls them.

The Greeks, he told us, love to pour yogurt over their salads and drink fizzy orange before their meals. The Portuguese like their olive oil. And the Irish like their mushrooms.

Or at least they used to. Mushrooms, apparently, sit heavy in the stomach and lead to all sorts of belly ache, so they are now on the FAI's banned list.

No more fungi for Robbie and his likes, which I'm pretty sure will lead to howls of derision from the likes of Monaghan where they grow lots of mushrooms. It certainly drew howls of laughter from the traveling media.

You see, it is so entertaining now covering the Irish football team with an Italian manager who wants to speak English all the time when he really should answer questions in his native tongue and let his translator do her job.

On Saturday night in Mainz, his lack of real English caused Trap all sorts of bother again when he made a remark about perceived criticism from Brian Kerr.

"If it was Jack Charlton criticizing me then I would be happy because he is a winner," said Trapattoni before he was asked to clarify exactly what he meant.

As always, his clarification was also lost in translation and the feeling remained that he was critical of Kerr, possibly unfairly so, not that I ever thought I'd make a comment like that!

The good news, before Wednesday's game in Montenegro that is, is that Trap's players are quite fluent in doing his talking on the pitch.

They were well organized and well composed against Georgia and fully worthy of the three points and the 2-1 win, even if they did have to go and concede another late goal as is their recent wont.

The worry, from a real football perspective, is that Ireland didn't kill off the woeful Georgians when they had the chance. They will have to work on their killer instinct before this Group 8 of the World Cup qualifiers is much older.

The other worry is that Trap left Andy Reid on the sidelines for the entire 90 minutes in Mainz at a time when it was obvious that his side lacked something in the creative stakes.

For now it is nitpicking to suggest that Reid will become Trap's David O'Leary and that his stubbornness in relation to the Sunderland schemer may yet cost him dearly.

We're too early into the World Cup for that, and as I write I don't know what's going to happen on Wednesday here in Podgorica other than reveal a fear that the game may not even matter and may never matter.