Ireland on must-win mission in Torshavn
SOCCER:“HOPE” was the theme during Giovanni Trapattoni’s early days as manager of the Republic of Ireland. “Belief” or the lack of it, is now key to whether the veteran manager has any chance of carrying on.
At his pre-match press conference in Torshavn last night he did his best to generate a bit and his team selection might be seen as gesture to those who have been consistently frustrated by what they see as his conservatism.
On the face of it any sort of win against the Faroes this evening would put Ireland where they had always been envisaged they would be at this point on the campaign: on six points after three games.
A good performance might also help to heal the wounds opened by the Germans on Friday night.
There are those, though, who believe Trapattoni’s fate has already been decided with what might laughingly be described as “the money men” out at Abbotstown having weighed up the profit and loss implications of replacing the Italian in the light of so many poorly attended games, and come to the conclusion it is worth the risk. The thinking is a new manager with a bit more box office about him and a lot more swagger about his team would have enough of an effect on attendances at games in the Aviva to make the numbers more or less stand up.
There is no reason at this point to suspect anyone at the association has a firm idea who this manager might be and, given their record for dragging out their recruitment processes little enough basis, it seems, for expecting a new man might be in place for February’s friendly against Poland, never mind November’s against Greece.
But what is perceived as the growing antipathy towards Trapattoni and his team is regarded as a problem that needs to be addressed. For all of that there has not, it seems, been a meeting of the board that FAI chief executive John Delaney routinely refers to and reportedly defers to but the speculation action is imminent has been strong and the FAI (whose chief executive has been keeping what well might be described as a low profile) have not managed a single denial despite being given a lot of opportunities to utter one.
The situation is complicated, or perhaps simplified depending on your point of view, by the fact that businessman Denis O’Brien pays half the cost of employing Trapattoni and his management team.
He will effectively have to agree to any decision and may actually drive it.
The association will, in any case, be desperate to avoid losing what has become an increasingly important source of revenue; not least because in the absence of O’Brien’s support the budget for employing Trapattoni’s replacement would dwindle; with serious implications for the economics that are supposed to be fuelling the move against him in the first place. It is not, in short, a pretty situation.