Giovanni Trapattoni: Dissecting the achievements of the ‘lucky’ manager

by Ciaran Kelly

It is a bizarre situation: debating whether to hand one of football’s most successful managers of all-time – who is one of only two managers (along with Ernst Happel) to win four league titles (ten in total) in four different countries and the only one to ever win every international club competition there is to win (European Cup, UEFA Cup (record three titles), Cup Winners’ Cup, European Super Cup and Club World Cup) – a two-year contract to stay on as the humble Republic of Ireland’s manager.

This is all the more remarkable given the fact that Trapattoni’s record for Ireland reads eleven wins, eleven draws and just two defeats in twenty-two competitive matches and eight wins, four draws and six losses in eighteen friendlies. When one compares this to Steve Staunton’s, the Italian’s predecessor, record with a similar group of players of four wins, five draws and three defeats in twelve competitive games and two wins, two draws and two losses in six friendly games, Trapattoni’s record seems all the more remarkable.

Trapattoni has made Ireland an incredibly impenetrable outfit, conceding just sixteen goals in twenty-four competitive matches and eighteen goals in eighteen friendly matches. Also, this statistic has improved as Trapattoni’s reign has gone on: Ireland conceded one goal in three competitive matches and five goals in four friendly games in 2008; four goals in three friendlies and nine goals in nine competitive matches in 2009; six goals in five friendlies and five goals in four competitive matches in 2010; and three goals in six friendlies and just three goals in eight competitive matches in 2011 (conceding just two goals in the ten matches, friendly and competitive, since the 2-3 defeat to Uruguay on 29 March, 2011). Having led Ireland into the European Championships, no mean feat regardless of a poor Estonia opposition and given the fact that Ireland have the worst play-off record in footballing history with five defeats, and having heartbreakingly gone out to France in 2009, there is no doubting the effectiveness of the Trapattoni regime. Given that Trapattoni is willing to accept a two hundred thousand euro pay-cut, due to businessman Denis O’Brien’s investment reducing in the Italian’s €1.7m per year contract, it seems a no-brainer for the FAI.

However, like most managers who played professional football, Trapattoni’s management style and tactics reflect how he played. A no-nonsense mediani and francobollatore, Trapattoni was famed for being a stopper and Italian folklore tells of him cancelling out the unstoppable Pelé (only somewhat true given that the Brazilian went off injured after twenty-six minutes) in a friendly on 17 May, 1963 in Rio De Janiero. While this may seem like stuff of legend, there is no doubting Trapattoni’s effectiveness in Milan’s 1969 European Cup final win over Ajax, which Milan won 4-1, where he nullified the then seemingly unstoppable (33 goals in 44 games in 1968/69) Johan Cruyff for the whole match. Trapattoni’s managerial playing style, with an emphasis on shape retention, long ball and the counter-attack rather than incessant pressing and short, pacey ground ball, has led to an undoubted frustration amongst the Irish people – regardless of the team’s undoubted commitment, passion and results. Trapattoni’s reasoning is that he has a limited group of players, unlike the plethora he had at the magnificent Juventus in the ‘80s, but that cannot excuse the similar cautious tactics he used with Italy between 2000 and 2004.

It seems all the more needless given Ireland’s marauding display against France in Paris on 18 November, 2009, which was of a dramatic contrast to the insipid and stage-fright filled Irish performance against a disinterested French outfit at Croke Park only three nights previously. Still, though, Trapattoni’s judgement with personnel, in spite of his controversial practise of only watching videos of players, generally cannot be questioned. For so long now, the remedy to Ireland’s ineffective midfield, with the industrious Glenn Whelan and Keith Andrews who have been exposed constantly for their lack of presence and failure to utilise the ball more effectively, has seemed to be the luxury player: first Stephen Ireland, then Andy Reid and finally Darron Gibson. With Trapattoni being initially lambasted for his lack of effort in trying to solve the enigma of Stephen Ireland, whose career has coincidentally nose-dived as Trapattoni’s reign has progressed, few could doubt that he made the right decision given the work-rate and commitment of Whelan, Andrews, Keith Fahey et al.

With Reid, whose exclusion was more controversial given that it was rooted in a late-night lead of a sing-song session two nights before the match against Georgia on 6 September 2008, his career has also fallen dramatically due to unfortunate luck with injuries, battles with his fluctuating weight, poor form and a failure to find a stable club. Gibson’s merits, consistency and character also have to be questioned, especially given that he held out for a £50,000 wage despite the guarantee of first-team football at Sunderland, and he looks set to be seventh-choice central midfielder behind Ryan Giggs, Wayne Rooney (!), Phil Jones (on occasion), Michael Carrick, Anderson, Tom Cleverley and Darren Fletcher at Manchester United. A case for James McCarthy certainly exists, like with starting the classy Fahey, but the youngster is a fragile prospect who is clearly still feeling the effects of three seasons (2006-2009) of intense and widespread abuse for declaring for the Republic over his home nation of Scotland. A happy-medium for both Trapattoni, given his thirst for the dogged and disciplined rather than the deft, and the Irish public would be Steven Reid. However, given the thirty year old’s club success with West Brom and his improved fitness and luck with injuries since he retired from international football, it would be highly unlikely that he will return or be asked to return for the Euros.

Trapattoni’s charm, undoubted class, 17 March birthday, ‘signature’ two-fingered whistle, endless broken-English ‘clichés’ and empathetic emotion in the face of injustice (Stade de France, 2009) and ecstasy (teary-eyed after the 0-4 win over Estonia) make it difficult to write him off as the robotic and result obsessed manager many have portrayed him as. From this side of the argument, though, many have deemed Trapattoni a fortunate manager in his four years as Ireland manager with the support and fixtures he has had so it begs the question, was the acclaimed Italian continually fortunate in his thirty-seven year managerial career?

Considering Trapattoni spent thirteen of his fourteen years (1958-72) as a footballer playing for his hometown club of Milan, it is perhaps no surprise that the likes of Nils Liedholm (1963-66) and Nereo Rocco (1961-63, 1967-73) had a massive influence on him. Liedholm’s then revolutionary intense training methods and zonal way of looking at football, through playing the percentages, had a clear impact, while Rocco was one of the first innovators of catenaccio: a regimented system based on caution, counter-attacking, long balls and man marking. Even with the national side, Trapattoni played under Rocco (and Gipo Viani) in the 1960 Olympics alongside the likes of Tarcisco Burgnich and Gianni Rivera. So, with a close relationship firmly established with Rocco, Trapattoni became a youth coach under the legendary Italian in 1972 at Milan and then his assistant before taking over permanently in 1976 after the interludes of Gustavo Giagnoni (1974-75) and Paolo Barison (1975-76).

Trapattoni had already acted as caretaker coach of Milan in 1974, when the then 38 year old Italian failed to impress in his audition: winning two, drawng four and losing four in ten league matches. Still, though, Trapattoni remained a club icon in the eyes of club president Vittoria Duina and was handed a one-year contract for the 1976/77 season. Milan dramatically improved in Trapttoni’s second spell: finishing a sweet third ahead of Internazionale, but some seven points behind a stellar Torino side, and improving on Trapattoni’s previous contribution (ten points from a possible thirty) to Milan finishing seventh on thirty points in 1973/1974. With Duina being outsted by Felice Colombo, Milan’s fifth president in an unstable nine years, Trapattoni was replaced by Giuseppe Marchioro but it was by no means the end of his top-tier managerial career – with 1975/1976’ second-placed Juventus offering Trapattoni the chance to replace the hugely successful Carlo Parola.

Trapattoni accepted, despite the intense rivalry between Milan and the bianconeri. Bankrolled by the Agnelli family, who made their money in the FIAT car industry and who laid the ideal conditions for management with their clever appointment of Juventus legend Giampiero Boniperti as honorary president from 1971, Trapattoni brought in the likes of Antonio Cabrini and Roberto Boninsegna to go with an already primed and generally peak-aged squad that featured the likes of Dino Zoff (34), Gaetano Scirea (23, the vital libero), Claudio Gentile (23), Luciano Spinosi (26), Marco Tardelli (22), Fabio Capello (29), Giuseppe Furino (30), Antonello Cuccureddu (27), Francesco Morini (32), Franco Causio (28), Pietro Anastasi (28) and Roberto Bettega (26). From this, it was perhaps no surprise that Juventus excelled in Trapattoni’s first season: winning the 1976/77 Serie A title after losing just two matches all season and winning the UEFA Cup, beating the likes of Manchester City and Manchester United along the way before defeating Athletic Bilbao on away goals in a 2-2 aggregate two-legged final.

Losing the thirty year old Capello to Milan was a blow, but Juventus marched on with little investment required: winning the 1977/1978 Serie A title after losing just one match all season. However, the European Cup was a disappointment for Juventus: after edging Ajax on penalties in the quarter-finals, they went out to the unfancied Club Brugge in the semi-finals. Still, it was Trapttoni’s first season in the competition and his form of catenaccio, with arguably the most devastating counter-attacks that had been seen in football with an incredibly fit and well-drilled side with numerous patterns, was a sustainable base to build upon with minor tweaks. However, despite this and the signing of the soon to be ever present Sergio Biro, the 1978/1979 season was a near-disaster for Trapattoni as the evergreen Gianni Rivera inspired Milan to the Serie A title and Juventus embarrassingly went out in the first round of the European Cup to Rangers.

Had it not been for his previous success with the predominant same group of players, Trapattoni’s capture of the 1979 Coppa Italia over Palermo and the patient backing of the Agnellis, there is no doubt that Trapattoni would have been out of a job by the start of the 1979/1980 season. Unperturbed and confident that his side would one day conquer Europe, the Italian carried on and bought Domenicio Marocchino and Cesare Prandelli in the hope of getting back into the reckoning of European Cup qualification through winning the Serie A. Again, though, it was a frustrating campaign with Juventus losing out to Internazionale by three points and failing to retain the Coppa Italia. Even though Inter had a near-identical playing style and goal difference under Eugenio Bersellini, many Juventus fans were growing impatient with Trapattoni and his stubborn all-Italian and il gioca all’Italiana (the system over individuals) style.

Realising that the 1980/1981 season would be his defining campaign, Trapattoni relented somewhat and brought in one of Europe’s most talented, promising and influential footballers: the 24 year old Liam Brady. Brady made his debut for Arsenal at just seventeen and went on to play 235 games for the Gunners in just seven seasons, reflecting his often underrated fitness to go along with his near-unrivalled trickery, creativity and brilliant passing. The Irishman also made a profound impression on Trapattoni in the 1979/1980 Cup Winners’ Cup semi-final, where he inspired Arsenal to a 2-1 aggregate victory. Juventus were much-improved: having the best goals scored (46) and goals conceded (15) record in the league, reflecting Brady’s influence but Trapattoni’s retention of Juventus’ impregnable defensive foundations, and finishing two points clear ahead of a vastly-talented Roma side. However, a major point of controversy and one of many that occurred in Trapattoni’s career, both for the good and bad, was at the Stadio Olympico on 10 May, 1981. Juventus were one point ahead of Roma going into the match and the game finished 0-0 but in the 74th minute, Roma’s Maurizio Turone controversially had a goal disallowed for a marginal offside by linesman Diego Perissinotto.

Trapattoni, somewhat bizarrely, felt it was overdue luck but the incident added much to the age-old notion that officials were sub-consciously biased towards Juventus. Unperturbed, Trapattoni entered his sixth season as manager and brought in the effective foreign stopper Massimo Bonini from Cesena. It proved to be an even tighter and more controversial title race, with Giancarlo De Sisti coming tantalisingly close to delivering Fiorentina the third Serie A title of their history. The title race went to the last game of the season, again, on 16 May, 1982. Fiorentina were level on points (44) with Juventus before they faced the relegation-threatened Cagliari and Juventus went to the already safe Cantanzaro. Already the sceptics were proclaiming fixture favouritism, although few would have predicted that Fiorentina, despite talents like Giancarlo Antognoni, would have been title challengers at the start of the season. Fiorentina drew 0-0 with Cagliari and had a goal from Francesco Graziani ruled out for a foul by Daniel Bertoni, while Juventus defeated Cantanzaro 1-0 through a brave penalty from Liam Brady (who knew he was about to be sold) in the last quarter of the match.

Again, though, controversy overshadowed Juventus’ win and Cantanzaro should have had a penalty on 35 minutes, but it was dismissed by referee Pieri. With his fourth title, Trapattoni had now established himself as one of Italy’s most successful managers at just 43 years of age. Still harbouring a dream of winning the European Cup, which Juventus had yet to win in the competition’s then 36 year history, Trapattoni brought in the much-needed flair, given Brady’s premature departure to Sampdoria (much-owed to Trapattoni’s feeling that he could not fit three flair players into his side), of Michel Platini (27) and Zbigniew Boniek (26) in the summer of 1982. Even though both Platini and Boniek had starred in the 1982 World Cup and had already established themselves as two of Europe’s biggest talents, they took time to adjust to Italian football and Trapattoni’s tactics. From this, by the winter of 1982, the pair campaigned for Trapattoni to play a more attacking style of football. With Juventus making up six of Italy’s 1982 World Cup final winning XI, which was also centred on il gioca all’Italiana and catenaccio, the ‘multi-national’ and foreign-inspired dynamic took time to grow.

From this, Juventus had too slow a start to the 1982/1983 campaign and lost out to Roma by four points, but the knockout format and late-season scheduling of the Coppa Italia and European Cup suited the bianconeri. They won the Coppa Italia against Verona and made the European Cup final against Hamburg after beating the likes of Aston Villa and Widzew Łódź along the way. Perhaps the all-time epitome of Trapattoni’s tactical stubbornness and poor tactical dynamism was when the Italian’s regimented man-for-man marking system was brutally exposed by Ernst Happel in the final. The Hamburg forward Horst Hrubesch usually had Lars Bastrup on his left side alongside him up front, which suited Claudio Gentile perfectly for marking and would allow Antonio Cabrini to maraud down the left flank ala Giacinto Facchetti under Helenio Herrera for Internazionale in the ‘60s. Realising this, Happel put Bastrup to Hrubesch’s right, neutralising the asymmetric limitations of Trapattoni’s system, and midfielder Marco Tardelli was left as the covering man. This reversed the fortunes, with Hamburg now having an ‘extra man’ in the floating Felix Magath and fatefully, it was Magath who netted the only goal of the game on 8’.

Trapattoni was left shell-shocked, but keen to continue the dynasty he had built. With Dino Zoff and Domenicio Marocchino retiring and departing respectively, Trapattoni brought in Stefano Tacconi and Beniamno Vignola to replace the pair. Juventus regained their Serie A crown in 1983/1984, edging Roma by two points, and Platini, who was heavily criticised by the Italian media in parts of his first season, scored an incredible 20 goals in 28 league appearances. After winning the 1984 European Cup Winners’ Cup against Porto and the 1984 European Super Cup against Liverpool, and with a newfound intolerance of invincibles by Trapattoni (as was seen in his frequent practise of substituting Paolo Rossi), Juventus had amassed the pedigree and dynamic capable of winning their first ever European Cup in 1984/1985. A focus on the tournament, with frequent squad rotation, was reflected in a poor sixth place finish in Serie A but Juventus made the European Cup final against Liverpool after a somewhat favourable draw that saw the bianconeri face Ilves, Grasshopper, Sparta Prague and Bordeaux along the way.

Thus, what should have been a landmark occasion for Heysel, hosting its fourth European Cup final with some of the greatest players and managers in Europe, quickly turned into a nightmare. Despite the ground’s standing as Belgium’s national stadium, with a capacity of 50,122, the stadium was in poor shape with outer cinder block walls that were easily scaled and smashed by fans. Coupled with this was poor crowd control by the police and an hour before kickoff, a section of Liverpool fans breached a neutral area (should never have been in place due to its openness to ticket touts) of the stadium to confront the Z section of Juventus fans – which caused the Juventus fans to back peddle, crushing those sitting near the back wall of the section, and leading to the wall collapsing with 39 people dying. Captains Phil Neal and Gaetano Scirea addressed the crowd, telling them that the match would go ahead to alleviate further trouble but the trophy was scarred from that moment on. Juventus ‘won’, courtesy of a Platini penalty on ’56 but the lap of honour at the end of the match was widely-criticised and Trapattoni was forced to vehemently deny that the team celebrated the victory when they returned to the hotel.

Trapattoni’s greatest achievement was badly soured, but he set his sights on the Intercontinental Cup to firmly place Juventus in the history books in their own right. A dramatic penalty shoot-out victory over Argentinos Juniors proved enough, following a 2-2 draw, and Trapattoni became the most decorated manager in Italian football history at just 45 years of age. Juventus also won the Serie A title by four points and with Trapattoni literally achieving everything he could have at Juventus and sensing that the likes of Antonio Cabrin (29), Luciano Favero (29), Gaetano Scirea (33), Sergio Brio (31), Stefano Pioli (31), Lionello Manfredonia (30) and Michel Platini (31) were entering the twilight of their careers, the Italian resigned whilst on top. Incredibly, he had won six of Juventus’ seventeen titles in their then 89 year history and was their first winner of the European Cup, UEFA Cup, Cup Winners’ Cup. UEFA Super Cup and Intercontinental Cup.

Refusing to rest on past glories, Trapattoni took the Internazionale job immediately after his resignation. Inter had gone six seasons without winning the Serie A title up to 1986 and in his five years of managing the Nerazzurri, Trapattoni won the Scudetto in 1989 (with Trapattoni’s, in tandem with his director of football, signings like Andreas Brehme, Alessandro Bianchi, Nicola Berti, Lothar Matthäus and Ramón Díaz proving crucial) and the 1991 UEFA Cup. After a failure to win the 1991/1992 Serie A with Inter, Trapattoni could not resist returning to Juventus at the end of the 1992 season –  following the bianconeri’s (Rino Marchesi, Dino Zoff and Luigi Maifredi) failure to catch a Napoli outfit inspired by Diego Maradona and Arrigo Sacchi’s brilliant Milan. Trapattoni’s ‘Juventus 2.0’ were a completely different outfit from his final season in 1985/1986, with the likes of Angelo Peruzzi, Massimo Carrera,  Júlio César, Jürgen Kohler, Marco De Marchi, Dino Baggio, Antonio Conte, Giancarlo Marocchi, Andreas Möller, Roberto Baggio, Gianluca Vialli, Paolo Di Canio and Fabrizio Ravanelli. Despite winning the 1993 UEFA Cup (defeating stellar PSG and Borussia Dortmund sides along the way), Trapattoni could not match Fabio Capello’s unstoppable Milan for three seasons running between 1991 and 1994.

Having managed Italy’s biggest clubs, the 54 year old Trapattoni sought a change of scenery and moved to Bayern Munich – who had been expertly led to the German title by Franz Beckenbauer in 1993/1994. It proved a frustrating spell and culture shock for Trapattoni: Bayern finished an appalling sixth in the Bundesliga and were embarrassingly knocked out of the DFB Pokal in the first round by fourth division TSV Vestenbergsgreuth. Having struggled with a new culture, language and a series of unfortunate injuries to key players, Trapattoni left for Cagliari at the end of a disappointing season. Possibly seeing the job as a possible stepping stone back into the ‘Big Three’ of Juventus, Internazionale and Milan, Trapattoni, nonetheless, failed to improve Cagliari’s fortunes greatly but they finished a respectable 10th in 1995/1996. Remarkably, Trapattoni was handed the chance to return to Munich following Otto Reheagal’s failure and Beckenbauer’s lack of interest in the job permanently.

Trapattoni resurrected his winning reputation after claiming the Bundesliga, German Cup and German League Cup between 1996 and 1998. Indeed, the Italian left an incredible legacy, with the promotions of Mehmet Scholl and Dietmar Hamman, and the signings of Bixente Lizarazu, Thomas Linke, Jens Jeremies, Mario Basler, Thorsten Frink, Hasan Salihamidžić, Carsten Jancker and Élber. Perhaps Trapattoni’s second spell at Bayern was best remembered for an infamous press conference on 10 March, 1998 in a bizarre mixture of pidgin-German and Milanese dialect. During the press conference, Trapattoni attacked members of his squad, particularly the injury-prone Thomas Strunz, and provided memorable phrases such as ich habe fertig (I am finished) and schwach wie eine flasche leer (weak like a bottle empty). Ironically, the press conference won him much support and cult status for his passion and bravery in trying to conduct it in German but Trapattoni, frustrated with the board and squad’s commitment and progress, left Bayern at the end of the season for Fiorentina.

The 59 year old Trapattoni performed admirably with La Viola, moulding and maintaining a fantastic team with the likes of Francesco Toldo, Tomáš Řepka, Moreno Torricelli, Daniele Adani, Pasquale Padalino, Jörg Heinrich, Andrea Tarozzi, Guillermo Amor, Angelo Di Livio, Rui Costa, Gabriel Batistuta and Enrico Chiesa. Fiorentina went from fifth in 1997/1998 under Alberto Malesani to 3rd in 1998/1999 under Trapattoni. It earned Fiorentina a place in the Champions League for the first time and after impressing in the tournament, drawing with Barcelona, beating Arsenal and beating Manchester United, Trapattoni was earmarked for the Azzurri national team. The Italian’s cause was greatly and indirectly helped by Silvio Berlusconi, who complained about Dino Zoff after Italy’s Euro 2000 2-1 final loss to France. Zoff, who had performed dramatically above the Italian Football Federation’s expectations in the tournament, was criticised by Berlusconi for not man marking Zinedine Zidane, who had a great influence on the match, and Berlusconi’s harsh words played a huge role in Zoff resigining.

Trapattoni, at 61, with his old-school style of management and football seemed outdated for a new decade and century but this is exactly what the IFF craved with a fear that illustrious names like Gianluigi Buffon, Paolo Maldini, Fabio Cannavaro, Alessandro Nesta, Gennaro Gattuso, Alessandro Del Piero, Filippo Inzaghi, Francesco Totti and Christian Vieri would run riot if their peak international years were not well-marshaled. However, Italy continually stumbled under Trapattoni, failing to dazzle despite their unbeaten run in a poor qualifying group that featured Romania, Hungary, Georgia and Lithuania. A side story that dogged Trapattoni’s preparations was that of Roberto Baggio, who made a miraculous 76 day recovery from a knee injury to make himself available for the 2002 World Cup but Trapattoni, controversially, refused to bring the magician. Italy’s start to the 2002 World Cup suggested that he made the right decision, with a fine 2-0 victory over Ecuador with two goals from Vieri which raised expectations dramatically. Trapattoni’s old-age eccentricity, with needless supplementary screeching, whistling and kicking of water bottles along with the sprinkling of his sister’s (a nun) holy water on the training and playing pitches did little to calm the situation.

Italy then lost 1-2 to Croatia and drew 1-1 with Mexico in horribly abject performances, but they did have a combined total of four goals controversially disallowed in both games which led to press murmurings of a conspiracy against Italy. This was ‘proved’ in the second round match against South Korea, where Korea beat Italy 2-1 after a golden goal by Ahn Jung-Hwan of Perugia. Italy went ahead on 18’ through Vieri, but sat on the lead against the vulnerable Koreans and Trapattoni bizarrely replaced Del Piero with Gattuso on 61’. Damiano Tommasi and Vieri also missed clear-cut chances, but Byron Moreno’s (who has since been convicted of heroin smuggling) refereeing left a lot to be desired. Tommasi had a goal ruled out for a debatable offside on 110’ and Totti was red carded (second yellow) for simulation – even though Choi Jin-Cheul made contact.

Crying foul, the IFF kept faith with Trapattoni in their adamant belief that the whole tournament was a sponsored-organised conspiracy (Italy were sponsored by Kappa). Trapattoni did not change any of his methods, again refusing to call-up Baggio and the hot prospect Alberto Gilardino, and Italy finished third in a poor Group E (Sweden, Denmark and Bulgaria). Even though they finished unbeaten on five points, Italy made little impact on the tournament and the IFF, crucially not Trapattoni, believed yet another conspiracy was against them when, in the final game, Denmark and Sweden drew 2-2 to send them both into the quarter-finals on goal difference. Even though both games took place at the same time, Totti’s sending-off for spitting, which was not seen by the referee, at Christian Poulsen in the first game at Denmark led to the bizarre belief that there was a Scandinavian-led conspiracy against Italy for the whole tournament. With his contract up, Trapattoni left for Benfica.

Trapattoni won the 2004/2005 Portuguese title, Benfica’s first in eleven years, before continuing his globetrotting with Stuttgart at the end of the season. The fans and players, though, had little time for Trapattoni’s outdated training methods and catenaccio tactics and once the Italian lost the dressing room, after dropping key players Jesper Grønkjær and John Dahl Tomasson who cricitised Trapattoni for his cautiousness, Trapattoni was sacked, for the first official time in his career (contract ran out at Milan in 1976), on 7 February, 2006. Trapattoni then moved to Red Bull Salzburg, winning the 2006/2007 Austrian title, before taking his current job with the Republic of Ireland national team.

Interestingly, Giovanni Trapattoni has never had a year away from football despite often being pushed, rather than leaving at his own accord, from certain jobs. Looking at the Italian’s illustrious 35 year managerial career, he has had many fortunate occurrences: constantly walking into top jobs (second Bayern return epitomises this); the Agnelli’s incredible wealth and somewhat uncharacteristic, but ultimately justified, patience ; the final-day 1981 and 1982 title wins; Juventus’ opponents up to the tragic 1985 European Cup final against Liverpool; and Ireland’s luck in the Euro 2012 qualifiers and play-offs.

However, that should not take away from Trapattoni’s undoubted self-made achievements, constantly sticking to his own handbook regardless of his occasional lack of tactical dynamism and outdated man management methods, and the Italian has had his fair share of bad luck too: the 2002 World Cup and Ireland’s 2009 play-off second leg against France. Managing thirteen teams in five different countries and achieving more often than failing, it is safe to say that Giovanni Trapattoni will go down as one of the modern era’s great football managers.

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