Trapattoni goes scouting in Norwich after talking things over with Delaney


SOCCER:THE FAI’s chief executive John Delaney and Republic of Ireland team manager Giovanni Trapattoni appeared to embark on a process of rapprochement yesterday with the 73-year-old Italians flying into Dublin for a meeting which, in keeping with the spirit of these things, was described by the association as having been “constructive”.

Sadly, after a week in which the Irish Independent repeatedly ran stories based on quotes from a “senior FAI source” which suggested that Trapattoni was to have been safely consigned to the organisation’s history by now and neither Delaney nor the association generally would comment on the story, there was no mention of a “full and frank exchange of views”.

However, the latest visit to Abbotstown by the former Juventus, Bayern Munich and Italy boss may not, one suspects, have been as warm as some of those during the early part of his reign when the pair regularly posed for photographs together and Delaney was inclined to namecheck the Italian in his own dealings with the media.

“The Football Association of Ireland today [October 19th] announced,” read the statement released after yesterday’s encounter, “that its Chief Executive held a constructive meeting with Giovanni Trapattoni in Abbotstown following the FAI Board of Management’s decision to reaffirm the manager’s position on Wednesday.

“The meeting,” it continued. “recognised that the association and Giovanni have always enjoyed a solid relationship. It also dealt with some issues that needed to be addressed following Wednesday’s meeting of the FAI Board of Management and this was done in a workmanlike and professional manner.

“Commenting after the meeting, Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni said, ‘John and I met today to clarify the thoughts of the board and these were agreed and confirmed by me. It was a useful and professional conversation and I thank him for this. During the meeting we discussed a number of points that were raised by the board to help us continue to improve our work for the association’.”

Having voted unanimously against sacking the Italian, apparently in no small part because the cost of doing so was utterly prohibitive for an organisation that is struggling desperately to meet the cost of its share of the cost of redeveloping Lansdowne Road, the board had suggested a number of areas in which the Italian might act so as to address the concerns of his critics.

Chief among them was his apparent reluctance to attend games in England and board members will doubtless be pleased to see that Trapattoni, who repeatedly suggested over the past week or so that he has little or no personal relationship with his employer, will head to Norwich today where the Premier League outfit will take on Arsenal.

It is unclear whether the trip, which will be made without his assistant Marco Tardelli who is back in Milan this weekend, will mark a new phase of regular attendance for the veteran coach.

Given the events of the last week, however, and the fact that Trapattoni routinely insists that his preference for watching DVDs of games as opposed to attending them in person is based on the uncertainty that surrounds the involvement of eligible players in the their clubs’ first teams, there must be a certain amount of trepidation around Abbotstown.

Trapattoni has, it has always seemed, a knack for engineering unfavourable situations that happen to suit his purposes and, as chance would have it, Wes Hoolahan, Anthony Pilkington and Marc Tierney, the players that might be of interest to him, were all last night expected to start the game on the home side’s bench.

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