He may have refused a call-up this week but Darron Gibson was on the brink of storming out of the Irish squad in Poland after the mauling by Spain in Gdansk , if the newspapers are to be believed.
Friday’s first World Cup qualifier with Kazakhstan has been overshadowed somewhat by Gibson who declined a place in the Irish party departing for Astana. This week, the Irish Independent claimed the Derry native had to be talked out of leaving the Irish camp in Poland following the defeat to the Spanish.
Gibson has had his runs-in with Trapattoni in the past when the Italian suggested he needed to leave Old Trafford to gain first-team experience. The Derryman eventually agreed with his international manager and left Man United for Everton where he has been a main-stay in David Moyes’ first eleven.
There would appear to be a game of brinkmanship taking place here. Trapattoni and the FAI are keen to convey that the door remains open to Gibson should he decide to return for the visit of the Germans to Dublin next month.
But equally, Trapattoni has asserted his authority by declaring that Ireland have replacements and they will carry on with or without the midfielder.
Gibson, for his part, is treading dangerous ground. He is making a statement to the manager that he has been consistently overlooked and feels unfairly treated. Euro 2012 was merely the tipping point.
Last season, Paul Green struggled to hold a place in a desperately poor Derby County team operating at the depths of the Championship. Even Keith Andrews, while earning plaudits during his spell at Ipswich, was toiling at a lower level. Glenn Whelan was in and out of the Stoke team.
Gibson played no part in Ireland’s three games at Euro 2012 as he watched Paul Green, who was a late call-up to the squad, being introduced ahead of him against Spain. Giovanni Trapattoni claimed this week he could not change his line-up for the final match with Italy for fear of looking like a weakened team would benefit his homeland. There’s vote of confidence in his replacements.
Then when the World Cup campaign began in earnest with a friendly away to Serbia last month, Gibson heard the management team talk up midfield rival James McCarthy saying he could replace the suspended Keith Andrews for the game with Kazahkstan.
And yet the behaviour of the 24-year-old in recent days has divided the Irish supporters. Many are using the incident as yet another stick, in a forest of switches, with which to beat Trapattoni.
Others have questioned the attitude of the player while many references have been made to his ego. However, we can’t forget that Gibson ran a gauntlet of abuse by declaring for the Republic over Northern Ireland. He moved to Goodison Park to further his career and he feels slighted by the man who holds the keys to his international future for the next two years.
On the other hand, while Paul Green has many detractors, he was a member of the Irish squad who pulled on the green jersey when called upon in Poland. If, as the papers suggest, Darron Gibson had walked out on his country as a result of seeing his team-mate brought on, serious questions have to be asked of him.
If the assertions in the media are untrue, however, they are shameful throw-away remarks, questioning the commitment of a player who is feeling the heat this week for taking a stand. The press are fuelling a fire of crisis around the Irish camp with which they themselves provided the touch-paper and the spark.
In the past couple of days, the inevitable comparison has been drawn with Gibson and Stephen Ireland. Giovanni Trapattoni’s stock would seem to have fallen so low among some sections of the Irish support, that had the Aston Villa man pulled his granny-killing stunt in today’s international set-up, the forensic analysts wouldn’t be turning up in Birmingham or Cobh. They’d be knocking on the door of Casa Trap in Milan.