It was on RTE's Sunday Sport radio programme last Sunday that the James McCarthy story began a journey into saga.
When reporting the news that the 20-year-old had pulled out of the Ireland squad, we wondered if there was anything more sinister to his withdrawal. But we’d already heard soundings that it wasn’t simply because of injury.
Later that evening in the RTÉ television studios, Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni, in front of his squad, the family of football and the nation, said that he was ‘disappointed’ and that it was ‘a great pity’.
Trapattoni is nobody’s fool. He’s been in more television studios than Ryan Tubridy and knows full well that the medium is the message.
‘He’s 21-years-old,’ said the Ireland manager, incorrectly.
In fact he won’t be 21 until November.
‘He is young. He is tired…okay.’
Here the body language said more than the words ever could as the genial Italian smiled and shrugged.
‘I just clarify,’ he said and then went on to muddy the waters.
‘I was many years club manager.....I invite my players go in the national team. Irish players must be proud to play with country.’
What? What is he suggesting? McCarthy, a gifted young Scottish born player of immense potential, who has taken the unpopular decision of declaring for Ireland since he was 15 and who has played at Under-17, Under-18, Under-19 and Under-21 level wasn’t proud to play for Ireland?
After three years I think I understand ‘Trappish’ now and if I do that’s plain unfair.
Lost in Translation is one of my all time favourite films. It stars Scarlett Johansson and Bill Murray who plays a washed up, former great movie star who has to travel to Tokyo, one of the few places on the planet where his celebrity still has currency.
He is in Japan to shoot a whiskey commercial.
Last week Giovanni Trapattoni availed of every media opportunity to shoot himself in the foot.
When Trap says ‘He like me’ he actually means ‘I like him’.
When he says ‘we call him’, he doesn’t mean he gave him a bell because he doesn’t have McCarthy’s telephone number.
Instead he means ‘We called him up to the squad’.
Day after day Trapattoni made a bad situation worse, bad-mouthing the player and asking him to be a man and make a decision and not let an agent decide his future.
He didn’t allow Darron Gibson the satisfaction of enjoying his wonder goal for any longer than 12 hours when he again told him to pack his bags and get the hell out of Old Trafford.
Trapattoni’s track record and status in the world game demands respect, of course, but unquestionably communication with the players, the media, and the Association is now a serious issue.
We asked debutante Seamus Coleman what the manager said to him prior to the game.
‘Nothing really,’ the former Sligo Rovers man replied.
What about at half-time or during the important qualifiers to come, who’s going to relay the tactical message to the team, especially now that Liam Brady is gone from the dressing room?
Inexplicably, considering the morning-after press conference took place at the airport on Wednesday, Trapattoni and Marco Tardelli appeared in the Aviva later that evening at the Scotland and Northern Ireland game.
Surely a trip to Skopje to watch Macedonia lose to Cameroon or a direct flight to Abu Dhabi to see Russia lose to Iran would have been more beneficial for either or both Italian legends.
Wednesday was also another dark day in the history of League of Ireland football. It was the day that Premier Division side Sporting Fingal went out of business.
Now there may not have been riots on the streets of Swords following the sad news but Fingal were trying to do things right on and off the field.
The 2009 FAI cup winners could have kept their entire playing staff for the season on about a quarter of the Italian’s wages.