FAI prioritise Euro 2016 qualifiers as search begins
Businessman Denis O’Brien to continue part funding the cost of Irish senior manager
Republic of Ireland coach Giovanni Trapattoni reacts during their World Cup qualifying defeat to Austria in Vienna. Photograph: Reuters.
John Delaney said yesterday that the FAI’s aim is to have a long-term replacement for Giovanni Trapattoni in place for the start of the European Championship campaign, However, the organisation declined to say what their plan for the concluding games of the current World Cup qualifying campaign is despite Ireland’s seeding for the Euro 2016 still hanging in the balance.
The association hasn’t ruled out the new man being in place by then but with it seems unlikely unless a swift decision was made and a candidate, like Martin O’Neill, who is available immediately because he is currently unemployed, was approached.
Previously, the association has turned to internal candidates to act as caretakers. Following the departure yesterday morning of Trapattoni, his assistant Marco Tardelli and fitness coach Fausto Rossi, the only surviving member of the management team is goalkeeping coach Alan Kelly and it is possible that he could put in charge – as his father, Alan senior was for one game against Switzerland 33 years ago – although it seems unlikely.
Although the process for the Euro 2016 draw, which is scheduled to take place in Nice on February 23rd, like the qualification system, has yet to be confirmed, the seedings are set to be based on Uefa’s own national team ranking list.
With 54 teams competing due to the addition of Gibraltar, it seems entirely possible that a system involving nine groups of six would be adopted with two teams from each progressing automatically along with a best third-placed team up and the four play-off winners.
Ireland, on the strength of second-placed finishes in their last two campaigns as well as their appearance in Poland, are presently 19th on the list but with the likes of Slovakia, Norway and Turkey very close behind. With France qualifying automatically as hosts, the difference between Ireland’s current position and dropping one place to 20th would be the difference between being seeded to qualify for the expanded finals directly and being seeded to make the play-offs.
Unlikely to rush
The association is unlikely to rush into an appointment on the basis of the ranking points but it is hard to imagine that they gave no thought to who would take charge in the event that Trapattoni has not been replaced.
Whatever else they have to contend with over the coming weeks and, if their track record is anything to go by, months, finance should not, in any case, be a major stumbling block for the FAI as they search for a successor to Giovanni Trapattoni with John Delaney revealing yesterday that the position will continue to be part funded for at least the duration of the coming European Championship campaign.