Paul Little
Paul Little

The They Might Be Giants track “I’ve no one to blame but my fat self” should be a song to resonate with Andy Reid and his acolytes.

The growing view touted around elements of the Irish media and among some fans that Giovanni Trapattoni’s cold-shouldering of the Sunderland man is more based on vindictiveness than any football logic is both ill thought out and unfair on the Italian

That Reid is some kind of victim is an increasingly seductive argument given the rather unbeautiful football being played by Trapp’s Ireland in this qualifying campaign.

On Saturday night, Eamon Dunphy went so far as to call Ireland’s display shameful, adding that there would be real Irish football fans in tears after such a performance!

The logic sees to be that an Irish side that has taken a functional, pragmatic approach to an unlovely extreme would surely benefit from the wit and vision of the Mackem schemer.

Surely the talented, incisive Reid could fill the considerable hole left by the self-imposed exile of Ireland’s most talented player, Stephen Ireland, and turn draws into victories?

The more so now that the player has reinvented himself in a manner surely to have drawn admiring glances from marketing team behind Weight Watchers.

But to follow this line is to suggest that the great Italian manager is guilty of a serious lack of professionalism both in terms of his judgement and treatment of the player.

But if a light is to be shone on anyone’s professional outlook and capabilities, then it should be directed at Reid himself and not at the manager of the Republic of Ireland.

While Reid’s new slimline look does him credit, as do his recent performances for his club, it also serves to reinforce the main criticism made over the years of the midfielder, namely that he was too overweight to be taken seriously.

The fact now that he has shed so much weight goes to prove that for the vast majority of his career, Reid’s attitude to his own physique has been unprofessional in the extreme. No longer can the argument be made that Reid was just built that way – that we should have accepted his rotundness because that was just the way he was.

We now know the truth.

If as is suggested Trapattoni’s opinion of Reid went south after some late night revelry by the midfielder while on Ireland duty, allied to the Italian’s concerns over the player’s physical shape and work rate, then it is hard not to side with the manager in having question marks over Reid’s professionalism and approach.

Those who have supported Reid’s claims even before the obvious improvements in his conditioning would do well to consider such issues when pushing for his reselection to the squad. Reid’s exile was his own fault, nobody else’s.

The diminutive midfielder still has an awful lot to prove to Trapattoni, and while his efforts over the summer should be saluted, weight loss and a good start to the season are not enough to repair his image in the Italian’s eyes.

What Reid now needs to do is to show that his remodelling is for keeps. He must maintain both his form and his physical conditioning. Doing both will show that he is a reformed, serious character.

And importantly for his Ireland prospects, it will show to Trapattoni that he has learned the harsh lessons of being omitted from the Ireland squad. If he can do this, then Trapattoni should reward his efforts.

This does not mean that the Italian should reshape his system to accommodate the midfielder – but the onus would be on the veteran coach to at least explain to Reid that there will be times in the future where his ability will be required to aid the Irish cause, and thereby welcome him back to the fold.

Carrot and stick can work for Reid. Trapp’s stick seems to have shaken Reid’s laid-back approach to the game that has held him back from realising his real potential.

Dangling a carrot now could reinforce the message to the benefit of the player, the squad, the fans and indeed the manager. After all, as Reid has shown in recreating himself – he’s now not averse to the healthy option!

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