Could Trapattoni’s contract have waited?
No Croke Park deal for Giovanni, then.
The Ireland manager will be leading the Republic of Ireland in their quest to qualify for Brazil 2014, regardless of what happens in Poland and Ukraine next summer, and he will be doing so for less money.
The Italian’s two-year extension was confirmed this morning, though there was never really anything to suggest it was in jeopardy.
Trapattoni was clear in his intentions that he wished to stay after leading Ireland to Euro 2012 and, afterall, he has fulfilled his brief.
The question was just how much Denis O’Brien was going to stump up. Enough, is the answer, thanks largely to Trapattoni’s acceptance, yet again, that things are tight.
His pay is directly linked to his success, but not in the conventional sense. The better he does, the less he gets. He is, therefore, the perfect employee. He delivers more and demands less. Why wouldn’t he be retained? Afterall,the FAI aren’t even picking up the whole tab.
If you are FAI chief executive John Delaney, there’s no reason not to keep the Italian.
Statistics like two defeats in two qualifying campaigns, one of which came in the 2010 play-offs against France (Ireland were unbeaten in the group), read pretty well in black and white.
A major campaign will boost the coffers, as will a lucrative warm-up against England, if we are not drawn against them on Friday. Delaney’s all about the bottom line and the bottom line looks good – certainly a lot better than it did two years ago.
The manager sees it as a results business and the players, those involved at least, have given very little indication that there is anything other than warmth and respect for the man who has honed them into such a consistent outfit.
Here again, there’s a sort of contra-flow occurring in the Trapattoni reign. Rarely has a manager so consistently bemoaned the lack of quality available to him but retained the faith of those whose ability he has lamented, leaving some to argue they are better than he gives them credit for, rather than the other way round.
He did it again this morning on Newstalk radio, when he ruled out the prospect of changing from his rigid 4-4-2.
“The system is important. When you have the players you can change the system. If you have your (Ireland’s) quality, I couldn’t change your quality with the other systems.
“I think that this system gave us the best opportunity to qualify.”
Whether you agree with the second part of that statement or not, it is difficult to argue with, given the fact he achieved qualification, but it is hard to contemplate anything but brutal exposure of that system unless Ireland get the luckiest of group draws on Friday evening.
Trapattoni has admitted he has had his fair share of luck, most notably in Moscow when, had the planets not aligned and Jupiter not been in the shadow of Uranus, Ireland would have lost by at least three.
France manager Laurent Blanc recently put his team’s unconvincing performance against the USA down to his experimentation with a new system. It was a system his players were not familiar with, he said, and they needed time to adapt. What were these outlandish tactics?
Explains Blanc: “When you have four forwards, it’s hard to find space and there is no one to make the pass. That’s the whole problem with a 4-4-2. You need one of the strikers to slip back to get and give the ball to the other.”
The fact a football man such as Blanc could refer to a 4-4-2 in such a manner, illustrates just how far removed the traditional formation is from modern thinking. None of the pacesetters in club or international football use it as a default, let alone rely on it exclusively.
Even emerging nations, Armenia, for example, another team Ireland enjoyed a massive slice of good fortune against in the qualifiers, are shunning such a rigid system. In their case, they have proved themselves ready to mount an assault on a World Cup qualifying group that contains Italy, Denmark, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria. Second is most certainly up for grabs there.
Of course, we have to remember where we have come from, but we also have to bear in mind where we are going. Ireland are heading to a first European Championships in 24 years, with no Plan B, and judging by the managers comments, he has no intention of instilling one anytime soon.
Under Plan A, Ireland have only managed to beat Georgia, Cyprus, Macedonia, Armenia, Andorra and Estonia in the last two campaigns.
Trapattoni says the players dictate the system and he plays to their strengths, yet it is he who picks the players and there are options in his squad, let alone outside of it, that would have allowed him to develop different plans of attack and less frantic forms of defence.
Is this really too much to ask of man who has been paid between €2 million and €1.7 million a year until now?
The Italian has had a fantastic career, and Ireland have undeniably benefitted from his time in charge, but given his loyalty to a system that relies all too regularly on the heroics of the usual suspects, even against the poor sides, would it not have been better to wait until after Euro 2012 to see the true measure of how far he had taken Ireland in four years?
His current contract allowed for it. So, why not?