Wily Trapattoni still in situ after eventful roller-coaster ride ends in disappointment
Still, when it really mattered, the 73- year-old showed he can still handle himself rather well with the press.
In the aftermath of the 6-1 defeat by Germany, his position really did seem to be under threat, an impression strengthened when one paper started quoting “a senior FAI source” who said, with what seemed like absolute authority, that the manager would be dismissed within the week.
For once the FAI didn’t seek any corrections or clarifications regarding the story. Its press officer literally declined to speak when asked about the situation while Delaney turned on his heels when approached by reporters in the Faroe Islands wanting to ask him who the source might be and whether there was any truth in what he was saying.
Trapattoni, meanwhile, won back over even a few of his harsher critics amongst the press corps thanks to the dignified way in which he handled the situation. The Italian quietly defended the job he had done but said he would accept whatever decision his employers took.
Their decision to stick with the former Juventus and Italy boss only reinforced the impression that the entire affair had been a half-baked attempt to provoke either his resignation or, at the very least, the sort of outburst that would have made his dismissal a little more affordable.
The 4-1 win Ireland secured in Torshavn helped too, of course, although not to the extent that Marco Tardelli seemed to suggest during a pitch-side briefing in advance of the Greece game when he claimed that it had been a “fantastic” year.
His audience might have settled for describing it as “a bit of a roller-coaster ride” although only, one suspects, because they wouldn’t know the name of that fairground attraction where everybody is hauled up slowly together and then allowed to hurtle back screaming towards the ground.
Trapattoni’s own contribution that week was his most incomprehensible press conference for a very long time – seriously, if anyone had told us he was going to be around for this long, we’d all just have learned to speak Italian – just one highlight of which was his observation that “many black players are very fast”.
There was no sense whatsoever that the manager was being racist, just bewildering and, as it happens, his most recent briefing for the Irish media was conducted completely through Italian with the association’s Peter Sherrard translating at the Dublin end of the conference call.
To be fair, though, the “You what?” moments are sometimes prompted by the people sitting on our side of the table.