In recent weeks some disappointed rumblings have emerged from Giovanni Trapattoni over the game of wait and see the F.A.I is playing with the Italian over an extension to his contract, which expires after the play offs against Estonia.
The F.A.I is determined to wait until Ireland’s qualification campaign for Euro 2012 has concluded before making a decision on the 72 year olds future.
The normally entertaining and media friendly Trapattoni was tight lipped on his future while announcing his squad for the Estonia matches.
When quizzed about his contract Trapattoni merely said “You always ask — and the answer is at the moment, it’s not important,”
“If we haven’t spoken about the about the contract by the time we have qualified or not qualified, there is a realistic option that we could stay or we could go.”
Trapattoni and his assistant Marco Tardelli are keen to continue in the job until the World Cup in 2014 and are understandably eager to have the situation addressed as soon as possible.
While the discussions don’t appear to be acrimonious just yet there have been glimpses of tension beneath the surface, with Trapattoni hinting that he could walk away after the second leg against Estonia even if Ireland were to Qualify.
Such a move would seem unlikely. More realistically these words were a subtle hint to John Delaney and company that the leverage of this situation can easily shift and a warning not to overplay their hand.
After all, this is the man that those in charge at the F.A.I and not to mention a large portion of the media hailed as something of a saviour to Irish football. The charismatic Trapattoni was seen by some as the first “big name” to manage Ireland.
So determined was Irish football to have him that businessman Dennis O Brien agreed to pay a percentage of the former Juventus manger’s reported €1.8 million a year salary.
Wanting the matter resolved seems like a fair request from Trapattoni who accepted a €100,000 pay cut in December of 2010 and will be asked to take another one if he wishes to remain as manager.
He has willingly done this while rescuing Irish football from the shambles of the Steve Staunton era, (who will forget that 5-2 defeat to Cyprus in 2006) taking us to the brink of qualification for our 1st major championship since 2002.
In his 40 match tenure in charge, Ireland have suffered just 8 defeats a record worthy of note when one considers the troubles the side were mired in when he took over the job.
At the very least the man deserves to be treated with some respect and a decision made sooner rather than later. At any rate this Irish team will be nervous enough without adding this distraction to the equation.
None of which is to say he should necessarily be retained. Trapattoni has many weaknesses, as a manger not least of which is his refusal to pick the best players at his disposal and a stubborn use of tactics that are effective only to a certain point.
His eccentricities and trouble grasping English have made him seem fun and entertaining to the media and endearing to fans but there have been definite signs that they have caused friction within the squad.
Failing to mend fences with complex characters such as Stephen Ireland or Andy Reid are one thing, not managing to integrate talents such as Seamus Coleman and James McCarthy when the alternative is Keith Andrews and Glenn Whelan may be his greatest failing.
At one point, his relationship with McCarthy deteriorated to the point where it appeared the young Wigan midfielder might go back on his original decision to play for Ireland over his native Scotland. Leaving out such a talent also hints at a mistrust of this Irish team’s ability.
We have seen on the rare occasions that this Irish side falls behind that when allowed to that this Irish side is capable of passing the ball and creating chances. However they rarely get the chance confined by a philosophy born out of the Italian’s days shielding the Milan back four.
The World Cup Qualifier against France will be remembered for Thierry Henry’s hand- ball but it was also one of the best performances an Irish side has put in since the 2002 World Cup.
Many a critic in the media has lambasted “Trap” for his unwillingness to budge on defensive tactics which have made Ireland hard to beat but sometimes harder to watch.
There would be no huge outcry of the F.A.I decided to move in a different direction and appoint a new manager. However the idea that they are waiting on qualification is flawed.
These games against Estonia will tell us nothing about Trapattoni’s management that we don’t already know. However the F.A.I’s stance shows that they really don’t know what they are looking for.
Ireland will probably not seriously compete at these European Championships even if they qualify. They will however make life difficult for those they play.
With players such as Given, Dunne, O Shea, Coleman, McCarthy, Keane, Long, Doyle and even John Walters, who is available even if he is rarely considered despite his style meshing well with Ireland’s tactics, the F.A.I should have already decided if they think the manger should be achieving more or if he warrants a new contract.
During the press conference Trapattoni expressed satisfaction with the job himself and his backroom staff have accomplished given that they have changed 90% of the team. Shay Given for one has come out in support of his manager although you can’t help but feel several players would be happy to see the back of him. Such is almost always the case.
The question the F.A.I should have answered by now is whether or not they two are happy with the job he has done. The foot dragging by those in Abbotstown suggests they are still unsure of what direction they should move in.
A lucky draw to face Estonia and more than likely a nail-biting two legged encounter will add nothing to the debate except the pressure to offer a new contract when clearly the F.A.I are not convinced it is the right thing to do.