Monday, November 17, 2008

If Trapattoni is happy - then I am too - Darron Gibson

Praise from Ireland coach, as well as Red Devils boss Ferguson, is all that really matters to Darron Gibson

Darron Gibson didn't read a newspaper or listen to a radio show after he made his Croke Park debut in last month's World Cup qualifier against Cyprus.

He got a pat on the back and a 'well done' in the ear from the men who matter most in his career, Giovanni Trapattoni and Alex Ferguson, and that's what is truly important to the 21-year-old.

Trapattoni caused some degree of surprise by choosing the United rookie -- who only made his Premier League debut for United in Saturday's thrashing of Stoke City -- in central midfield for the clash with Cyprus, Derry native Gibson getting the nod ahead of more experienced men like Andy Reid, Liam Miller or Joey O'Brien.

Most observers agreed that the Irish central midfield of Gibson and Glenn Whelan didn't exactly light up Croke Park on the night and Gibson was roundly criticised for his display against the Cypriots.

But the United man, likely to win another cap against Poland on Wednesday, told the Herald that criticism doesn't affect him.

"I didn't read anything that was written or said about me after the Cyprus game," said Gibson, who came on as a second-half sub in United's win over Stoke.

"I don't care what is said about me. As long as I do the business for my manager and play well, I am happy.


"And I know that I did that against Cyprus. Mr Trapattoni came up to me after the game, said I did well and that I was very much part of his plans and that meant a lot to me, coming from such an experienced manager.

"And when I went into training the next day, Alex Ferguson took me aside, said he had seen bits and pieces from our match in Dublin, that I had done well and to keep it up. So, if those two experienced managers are happy with me, then that's good enough for me," added Gibson, who played 90 minutes for his club in their midweek Carling Cup win over QPR last Tuesday.

"Cyprus went well for me, in my opinion. Myself and Glenn Whelan were picked to do a job and we did that job. We played okay and we won the game.

"I heard that the two of us in midfield got a bit of stick but we did what the manager asked us to do and in football I don't think you can do any more.

"It was a big thing for me, to start a game at Croke Park. I know I am young and still learning the game, but I feel I will only improve from the experience of games like that.

"The manager only told me on the day of the game that I was starting for certain. There was stuff in the press and on the radio the day before that I might play. He didn't make a big fuss of playing me, he just named the team from one to 11 and I was in it.

"Even though it had been rumoured that I might play, I was still in a bit of shock. The idea of starting a World Cup game for my country at Croke Park, and such an important game, was a big thing for me.

"I know the manager took a risk in starting me against Cyprus as I am not as experienced as other players in the squad. He took a bit of stick from the press over that, but he doesn't care; the media don't faze him at all. He knows what he wants to do and he sticks with it."

Trapattoni has shown so far in his seven-month reign as Ireland coach that loyalty is a vital part of his make up. Do the business the way he wants and you will keep getting chances, as people like Whelan, Andy Keogh and Kevin Kilbane have found out.

And Gibson hopes that stays true for the next few games at least, starting on Wednesday against the Poles,

"It's a big game for people like myself and Glenn Whelan," says Gibson. "At the moment, I am not playing too many games for my club and Glenn's not a regular with Stoke right now, so we need to play and do well against Poland to stay in the Ireland team.

"It's not so long before the next qualifier, against the Georgians in February, and I think I need a good game, if I am selected against Poland, to stay in the team.

"There is a slot available in the Irish side as Steven Reid is out injured and will be out for a while. I had the chance in the last game against Cyprus and it's up to me to try and keep myself in the team," added Gibson.

One problem for Trapattoni is that so few of his central midfielders are getting regular game time with their clubs: Gibson, Whelan and Liam Miller have all struggled to get starts in the Premier League this season, while those who do play more regularly (Joey O'Brien, Andy Reid, Rory Delap and Lee Carsley) all failed to make the squad.

That's why it's important for Gibson, now in his fifth year at Old Trafford, to push on with his club career. And just as an injury to Steven Reid has opened up a slot in the Ireland team for Gibson, the same could happen at club level with injury ruling out United duo Owen Hargreaves and Paul Scholes.

"I would never wish bad luck on anyone and it's terrible for the club to see Hargreaves missing the whole season. I hope he gets back, but it does give me some chance," added Gibson, who showcased his talents with a rare 90 minutes in the 1-0 win over QPR.


"It was a tough enough game for us. We had to work hard to win it but I think we deserved it in the end.

"There's been a lot of talk about the new generation of Arsenal players, how good their youngsters have been in the Carling Cup when they've played, but I think the United team and our younger players did pretty well against QPR. It would be nice if we got some of the good press that Arsenal get for playing their youngsters.

"It was good for me to get the 90 minutes under my belt. I've had a couple of sub appearances for United before, but never a full game, so that was a big boost to my confidence. The fact that the manager started me and kept me on for the whole game meant a lot to me. For me, it was a step closer to the first team and me being involved on a more regular basis."

United have twice sent Gibson out on loan, both times for a whole season, to Wolves and also the Red Devils' continental feeder club Royal Antwerp. Gibson may take another loan move -- but if that happens it's likely to be with another Premier League club.

He said: "I will leave things as they are until Christmas and see what happens. I plan to have a chat with the manager over the next few weeks to see what his plans are.

"If I can get another appearance or two under my belt between now and the New Year, it will strengthen my case to stay and try to get into the team, but it's his call.

"I know that I need to be playing games. If the manager wants to keep me here for the whole season and sees me as part of his plans, then of course I will stay, but if he thinks that I need a bit more time on loan, then I will go on loan."

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