Armenia v Republic of Ireland: Patience a virtue for Giovanni Trapattoni
Republic of Ireland players are hoping that events on the pitch in Yerevan tonight run smoother than the chaotic preliminaries in the Republican Stadium.
Pressed into an undersized room, with body heat driving up the soaring temperatures here even further, Giovanni Trapattoni and Robbie Keane encountered a fraught situation drawn from a combination of obtrusive photographers, a superfluous local interpreter, and a constant hum of talking and mobile phones. Press briefings, Armenian style.
Fittingly, one of the offending ringtones was an old Jamiroquai tune by the name of ‘Virtual Insanity.' Around that point, Keane leaned back and raised his eyes to the ceiling. Soon after, Trapattoni was doing an impression of a sheep. Another campaign has dawned.
Following the Trap roadshow is rarely boring except, some argue, for the majority of the games. It is a theme which refuses to go away. Every time the Italian begins to play an imaginary violin, the thrust of his argument is that people who want performances of beauty can go to a concert. All he cares about is results.
Ireland's liberation in Paris prompted hopes that the path forward will include a more positive approach on the park. Trapattoni, however, says that the nature of that display was drawn from his players finally realising when it's the right time to attack.
He wishes for them to do the same in this encounter and, considering the sapping heat, the underlying message is that they won't be taking a gung ho approach. This summer's World Cup convinced Il Capo that he was on the right track.
“Argentina, Brazil, they play the beautiful football and they go home,” he asserts. But what about Spain, comes the retort from the crowd?
“Spain? Yes, of course, but their European mentality is good. 1-0, 1-0, 1-0, 1-0. They not look for four or five or six goals.
“Let me clarify. My team, we know, they know, that all of players know the moment when it is right to attack. There are the opportunities. And there are moments when you cannot do it. Our players know their own quality, but they need to know about the quality of the other team. I say only to them, be careful. They have to interpret the moment.”
From the ashes of Paris emerged a determination to put things right that still burns brightly. In Warsaw, back in February, when the balls threw up what the manager describes as a 'crazy' group in travelling terms, his gut instinct was positive.
Armenian coach Vardan Minasyan reckons that Russia and the Republic are the teams to beat, speaking in respectful terms about Trapattoni's impact.
He didn't wish to read too much into the Armenian U-21's side destruction of a Don Givens' team on this patch or their subsequent joy in Tallaght.
Members of that Armenian side have been fast-tracked into the senior setup and Shakhtar Donetsk playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan will attempt to pull the strings as he roves in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Holding midfielders Paul Green and Glenn Whelan will need to keep their discipline.
“They have good players, technical players,” said Trapattoni. “I have seen many of their games, they have secured good results, so we need a good mentality.”