Defiant Giovanni Trapattoni prepared to stay until the bitter end with Ireland
Manager clings to hope of World Cup dream but third in group ‘a good result’
The Republic of Ireland’s dejected manager Giovanni Trapattoni in the closing moments of the World Cup qualification defeat against Sweden. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Giovanni Trapattoni has acknowledged that his time as Ireland manager is bound to end in the event that Ireland don’t qualify for the next World Cup but says he intends to stay until the end of his contract expires next June unless the FAI seeks to remove him. After that, he says, he will look to take on a new challenge.
The 74-year-old says he has not given up on the team making it to Brazil somehow but admitted that after Friday’s night’s defeat by Sweden, finishing third in the group ahead of Austria is now a far more realistic target.
“I don’t expect, after this campaign, to go up again (with Ireland) in the future,” said the Italian who has been manager of the team since early 2008 on Saturday morning. “But after five years I think we have achieved a good result. We have changed the team, improved the ranking (not actually true), we have moved on players and discovered many others. In France, the first time, you know, we deserved to go through. Then we achieved qualification (for Poland). Obviously I thought until yesterday that we could also qualify (this time). Now, maybe, the third position could be also a good result for us.”
Like his players, Trapattoni is understandably reluctant to publicly concede defeat completely in relation to qualification and having reminded his players earlier in the morning that that they are not mathematically out of things yet, he said: “It’s taken for granted that Sweden can beat Kazakhstan but with the football Kazakhstan play at home I have hope.”
A glance at the Group C table does little to inspire much optimism, however, and even if the Swedes were to drop points in Astana, Ireland winning in Vienna looks to be a long shot which would have to be followed by other favourable results.
Miss out on play-off
At the end of all that,in any case, there is the distinct possibility at this stage that Group C will produce the second placed team with the lowest number of points, something that would ensure the runners-up miss out on a play-off place anyway.
The association, meanwhile, is rumoured to be exploring potential fall-back plans for the November play-off dates with a game in Australia said to be a possibility, as is one in Poland, potentially in Poznan. A spokesman declined to comment either way, insisting that the focus at the moment is still on the possibility that the team might have play-offs to occupy it.
Trapattoni seems intent on still being in charge at that stage with the Italian suggesting that he sees no reason not to see out the remaining nine months of his contract regardless of how the campaign ends.