Stephen Kelly and Giovanni Trapattoni are playing out a nasty tit-for-tat row in the full glare of the media spotlight after the defender stated he was ‘shocked and disgusted’ with the manager’s comments about him this week.
Kelly has hit back with a strongly worded statement against Giovanni Trapattoni’s apparent accusation that the Reading player would only show up for Ireland duty if he was going to play.
Trapattoni has again demonstrated the extraordinary knack for criticising his players in public by apparently questioning Kelly’s commitment to the Irish cause.
Following the friendly win over Poland, for which Kelly did not receive a call-up, Trapattoni was asked about the Dubliner’s omission.
“You know why this situation happened with Kelly…He said, ‘I play or I go home.’ Go home.”
The outburst follows the training-ground bust up between Kelly and Marco Tardelli before the World Cup qualifier with the Faroe Islands last year.
“We have a squad, we have a team. They don’t say in their club ‘I’m going home if I don’t play.’ Why? Why not in England? I ask you – why only here?”
Now Kelly has hit back with his own statement.
It is extremely disappointing for me to have to make this statement. I am simply shocked and disgusted with the untrue and unwarranted comments made by Giovanni Trapattoni.
“These hurtful and untrue comments have caused distress and upset to myself and my family who have supported me throughout my career and know the level of commitment and passion I have always shown in representing my country.”
Kelly is the latest in a growing list of Irish players who’ve fallen foul of the manager’s comments to the media. And it’s a problem that goes both ways. Darron Gibson is under self-imposed exile from the Irish squad as he feels he’s been overlooked in favour of lesser players while James McClean took to Twitter to vent his frustration after the game with Kazakhstan
Now Kelly has continued the ugly practice developing around the Irish set-up of disagreements being played out in the media.
“I have proudly represented Ireland from the age of sixteen, and I have never shown anything other than 100% commitment to my country and my team,” said Kelly.
His sentiments may be true but what happened then before the Faroes game when the 29-year-old apparently had to be talked into boarding the plane?
Trapattoni is under immense pressure to hold on to his job as Irish manager. Supporters have been abandoning the team in their thousands with Poland outnumbering home fans this week at the Aviva Stadium.
It’s yet another example of a communications breakdown between Trapattoni and his Irish charges. The manager is in danger of losing the respect of his players but equally our footballers have developed the nasty habit of questioning their manager’s authority, and always in front of a microphone.