As it is internationals weekend, a large chunk of Salut! Sunderland is off to Istanbul to celebrate his wedding anniversary. Whether much new appears here over the weekend is up to another large chunk, and the IT and editing skills of a smaller chunk, left behind. But before I tuck into the kebabs, let me give a quick kicking to Giovanni Trapattoni for his continued exclusion of Andy Reid from the Irish squad …
Q: “What do you call a banjo at the bottom of the sea?”
A: “A start?”
Giovanni Trapattoni may not have been the one who made up that musical extension of the can-we-please-get-rid-of genre of jokes. He may never have encountered Barney McKenna on a bad night or held negative thoughts about the banjo.
He does, however, appear to harbour some sort of grudge against Andy Reid (pictured courtesy of A Love Supreme), our newly slimline schemer with a fondness for singing and playing guitar and banjo (maybe we should have got him to review the Mags You Can Love, Rachel and Becky Unthank, at Salut! Live).
How, unless you were a Kevin Keegan intent on ignoring the most prolific goalscorer from the Premier when choosing who to play in Euro 2000, would you otherwise explain leaving out a quality midfielder who is currently on fire in one of the two or three best leagues in the world?
Trapattoni has mumbled about recognising that Reid has qualities but feeling they are not those he most needs. That would be a reason for having him in the squad as an option, even if he thought him unlikely to start.
Isn’t there a much more likely explanation? “It is believed the pair almost came to blows at their team hotel in Wiesbaden, Germany, after Trapattoni broke up a late-night singing session involving Reid, other players and coaching staff,” said the Daily Mail last year. Whatever you think of the Mail’s view of life, that has a ring of truth to it.
Which leaves me as unconcerned about the Republic of Ireland vs France as I am about every other international game this weekend.
That won’t especially surprise those aware of my heavily club over country bias. But France and Ireland are countries I do care about for different reasons, and I’d normally have at least a preference between them in such an important game; the inclusion of a Sunderland player would make that difference.
I saw the two play at the Stade de France five years ag in the run-up to the last World Cup, when I was living in Paris. A wealthy Dubliner had come up with a spare ticket at a chance meeting the night before; he had been on the Orient Express celebrating his 30th wedding anniversary and was flying in his three daughters for the next day’s match to round off the trip.
Andy Reid played in that game, and played his socks off. Ireland deserved to win but France rode their luck and scraped a 0-0 draw (they went on to be beaten finalists). On that night, I wanted the Irish to win. In other circumstances, since my wife is French and my children are therefore half-French, I might be shouting for les Bleus.
In fact, the absence of our wandering minstrel from the Irish squad constitutes those “other circumstances”. I do not begrudge Anthony Stokes his place, but whatever form he is showing at Hibs, he has done rather less than Reid to impress at the highest level of league football.
Allez les Bleus!