Euro 2012 Betting: Luck o' the Irish
Kevin Doyle should be selected upfront but he has had a difficult year
Ireland legend Niall Quinn isn't giving up on Trapattoni's boys at Euro 2012, even if they are the Group C outsiders to qualify.
In every tournament we've gone to, we've always got a big result and I think this tournament is no different. I've been encouraged by some of the things said by Croatia and Slaven Bilic who has belittled the Irish side. Truthfully, I think they have set themselves up a little bit.
Are they over-praised?
Is their manager over-hyped?
I loved it when he talked down Ireland. In any team I've been involved in, those things have always helped. Maybe I've been a fan too long but I'm beginning to think we can get one big result, another draw and move on to the next phase.
Spain is what it is. When it was announced that David Villa was out of the Spanish squad, it was headline news in Ireland. That just shows you the fear that's in the air about that game. I wouldn't write it off but it's the toughest game, especially as, since Giovanni Trapattoni took over, Ireland have played Italy three times and have never been beaten.
I speak to one or two of the older players and, from what I can gather, Trapattoni brings organisation into play that is almost too rigid for the fans but the players feel it's necessary and it's got Ireland this far. It must be remembered that on the morning he named his squad, nine Irish players were going to be playing in the Championship next season. Organisation is so valuable to this group even if the training is monotonous at times.
Trap is very clever. I think he plays up his lack of English to avoid being pinned down by the media. The style of football sometimes disappoints fans which is exactly what happened in my time with Jack. That all changes when you get to a tournament and you get a big result.
He's a very religious guy and he climbed Croagh Patrick, which is a traditional Irish pilgrimage. Twenty years ago that would probably have made him a bigger hit in Ireland but he's got something going with the people and he's one result away from capturing the whole nation.
His tactics and approach won't be a secret. He'll pick players who will follow the plan and there will be very few surprise, injuries permitting.
Kevin Doyle should be selected upfront but he has had a difficult year. Shane Long had a good year at West Brom and that could affect things. In 1990, Tony Cascarino was the first-choice striker but he had a terrible season and Jack dropped him after one or two bad games. I came in and played for ten years. Tournaments can sort everything out.
James McClean could be the surprise. I've seen him a lot at Sunderland. Trap doesn't like players who make an impression through the media. James has come in and made an impression the right way. People have seen his end result but his game is about work-rate. He knows that if he stood on the wing with his hands on his hips he wouldn't be going to Poland.
The spine is key to this team which is why the concerns about Shay Given and Richard Dunne are a worry. Yet I don't think Ireland can do without Robbie Keane. He has a knack of scoring big goals. His record should be heralded more than it is and things would be very difficult without him.
I think Ireland can suffer if they go behind. The team is set up not to concede. We'll show great spirit but if the opposition scores, can we change the whole shape of the team to chase a game without throwing it all away?
I wonder if Spain can do it for another tournament which would be a phenomenal achievement. I think they might be tipping over the edge, especially as they've lost Puyol and Villa. They're favourites but as tournament winners, I'd lay Spain.
Recommended Betfair Bet
Lay Spain to win Euro 2012 @ Betfair odds of 4.1