News from the Peninsula – Giovanni Trap-ped as Thierry hands France a place in South Africa

Poor old Trap. Killed by le hand of Thierry. The former Azzurri boss combined all of his 30-odd years worth of managerial guile to almost pull off a quite remarkable reverse in Paris. So near, yet so far. Giovanni Trapattoni will not be leading his Irish chargers to South Africa, and Henry’s subsequent admission of guilt and the cries of injustice from all quarters will do little to appease anybody belonging to the Republic of Ireland football team.

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Three days on from ‘Handball-gate’ and we’ve had an earful from all and sundry. Even politicians and Presidents are now wading in. FIFA have confirmed there will not be a replay. The result stands. Harsh it may be, fair, it certainly is not. France are going to the World Cup. End of.

Usually with controversial incidents we have to put up with the ‘was it – wasn’t it’ debate rumbling on until the next talking point it off its perch. The fact the handball was so obvious means we don’t have to sit through that, athough inevitably enough, the calls have come for video technology to be introduced. Whilst this writer completely understands the merits and the support for video replays and such like, he is totally against it.

The French goal shouldn’t have stood. It was cheating, blatant. True, a video replay would have cleared the issue up in no time leaving the remainder of the game free to run its natural course, with a true victor established. Henry’s reputation would be intact, Ireland could hold no grievances, and everybody would be happy. But, in this compelling and contentious sport of ours, are we really kidding ourselves into believing that everything would be simply cleared up, leaving no fuss or controversy after a few clicks of a video ref’s computer? Is this really going to happen?

To use the Henry goal as a microcosm, would the video ref even have been used in this instance? Some suggestions as to how far we go with TV evidence argue it should only be used for goal-line decisions. If this was the case, it would have been utterly useless on Wednesday night, and thus would only then fuel the fire of further extending those jurisdictions to penalty box behaviour and so on and so forth. The floodgates are now open. We would extend and extend again until the whole game would be officiated from upstairs, apart from one bloke in the middle being told to peep his whistle on command. Is this what we want?

So here we are then, Florent Malouda’s just about to drift in this free-kick, the whole field under heavy surveillance. Henry handballs, Ireland complain, video ref sees it, disallows goal. But what’s this? A French official has spotted a tug on someone’s shirt and is demanding a penalty! But there’s also an infringement on an Irish defender. Are we now overlooking the handball to sniff out an offence elsewhere? The infringements both look like fouls, but which do you go with? The one that occurred first or the one that looks worse? All of a sudden, we’ve gone from looking at a handball, to deciphering penalty box horseplay, all with half an eye on offside or whatever else comes clean after five or six replays from alternate angles. Where does this start, where does this stop? If it starts it will never stop. Coach Trapattoni must have benefited from some debateable decisions going his way over the years, this time he has not. Karma, now lets leave it that way.

If Trap’s adopted nation won’t be at the World Cup, at least he can swap the Guinness for a glass of Chianti and watch his motherland. Following on from a stuttering finale to their WC Qualifying group, the Azzurri produced two less-than-inspired friendly performances this week, in their last action before World Cup year. In all honesty, it’s often difficult to truly ascertain what you can and cannot take from these international friendlies. Coming in the middle of a hectic club scene and with first team regulars going down with minor ailments, it really is a thankless task for Marcello Lippi. Although the Holland game was completely devoid of positives, the Sweden match saw the fringe players show a desire to impress and force a place into the final 23-man squad. This hunger can only push the remainder of the squad further, keeping them on their toes and requiring them to show a similar urgency to be involved as la Nazionale head to Africa to defend their title.

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Domestically, it is a crunch week for Inter, in Europe especially. Ahead of the fifth round of Champions League games on Tuesday and Wednesday, Inter, Juventus and Milan all have essentially winnable games against Bologna, Udinese and Cagliari respectively. Il Biscione’s lead at the top of Serie A has been cut to five points, but of more pressing concern will be their trip to the Camp Nou in a clash which Barcelona, worryingly, must win. With the handball-proof Thierry Henry lining up against the Nerazzurri, Jose Mourinho’s side must improve their appalling continental form over the past year to progress to the knockout stages of the competition. A draw would do, a defeat would leave them perilously close to elimination.

The closer we come to January, the busier the gossip columnists become. Now, for those of us who love a bit of idle tittle-tattle, you’ll be interested to hear that Inter and Chelsea are locked in a £40m battle for Sergio Aguero, Andrea Dossena will be rescued from his Liverpool hell by Napoli, Juve and Inter will fight it out for Andrea Ranocchia and Milan are after Eden Dzeko, Luis Fabiano and pretty much anyone else that can put the ball in the back of the net. Mid-November and there’s already hundreds of millions of Euro’s in transfer fees being exchanged. What global recession?

News from the Peninsula

Week 6-7 –
Milanese managerial mess
– September 27 – October 3

Week 7-International week (Rep. of Ireland vs. Italy, Italy vs. Cyprus) –
Cannavaro stung by doping claims
– October 4 – October 10

International week (Rep. of Ireland vs. Italy, Italy vs. Cyprus)-Week 8 –
Lippy Marcello blasts the tifosi
– October 11 – October 17

Week 8-9
Inter-spective look at Mourinho’s European Nerazzurri
– October 18 – October 24

Week 9-11
Life begins at the quarter
– October 25 – October 31

Week 11-12
Inter late show keeps the Euro fire burning
– November 1 – November 7

Week 12-International week (Italy vs. Holland, Italy vs. Sweden)
The human side of the modern day footballer
– November 8 – November 14

International week (Italy vs. Holland, Italy vs. Sweden)-Week 13
Giovanni Trap-ped as Thierry hands France a place in South Africa
– November 15 – November 21

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