Gio shown trap door leaving way open for O’Neill

GiovanniTrappatoni

GiovanniTrappatoni

In the fullness of time, the reign of Giovanni Trapattoni will be seen as a relatively positive one for Irish football.

Don’t get me wrong, it was no Jack Charlton or Mick McCarthy, but it wasn’t as bad as Steve Staunton’s. Lest we forget, he was only the third ever manager to guide Ireland to a major football championships – however, unlike Big Jack or Big Mick, the performance of the team at Euro 2012 was as limp as a wet lettuce.

And these ‘nearly there’ performances were to ultimately prove the downfall of Giovanni Trapattoni when he and his management team left their roles within the FAI by ‘mutual consent’ after being defeated by Sweden and Austria in their vital World Cup 2014 qualifying games, meaning the moon has a better chance of turning pink than Ireland now have to qualify for next year’s festival of football in Brazil.

Trapattoni had been on borrowed time since the terrible performance in Euro 2012 and some of the displays by the team made the clamour for him to resign deafening. But the Italian, stoic in his resolve, held out as long as he could before time was called on his Ireland – and one would imagine – his managerial career.

It was the right time for him to go. The speculation about his position was being discussed at each and every press conference and it was becoming more of a case of ‘when’ he’d leave, rather than ‘if’.

The defensive frailties that have crept into Ireland’s game more and more in the past few years were prevalent in the first of their double-header of defeats last month, when they took the lead against a strong Sweden team in Dublin, before goals from Johan Elmander and Anders Svensson saw the Swedes leave Dublin with a 2-1 victory, leaving Ireland on the brink of elimination.

And the final nail in the coffin was hammered in by Bayern Munich’s David Alaba’s late goal as Austria defeated Ireland 1-0 in Vienna. The next day, Trapattoni left his post – so it really was Goodnight Vienna for the Italian.

Suspicions were aroused that something was amiss when the FAI cancelled a planned press conference with Trapattoni upon the teams’ return to Dublin.

A few hours later, the FAI released the following statement: “The Football Association of Ireland, Giovanni Trapattoni and Marco Tardelli today (September 11) announced that following an amicable meeting this morning, they have parted company by mutual consent.

Speaking following the meeting, Giovanni Trapattoni said: “I want to thank everyone in Ireland who has given us their support during our time here which has always meant a lot to us. We leave this country with emotion because we understand the Irish supporters who have a well-deserved international reputation and they have our utmost respect. I would like to thank John Delaney, Paddy Mc Caul, Michael Cody and the FAI Board for their support and friendship over the last five and a half years.

“I would also want to thank all FAI staff members, including the backroom team and the players who have been great to work with during the last three campaigns. I wish them well in the future and hope that the job we have done leaves everything in a good place for my successor to take over.”

Making the announcement, FAI Chief Executive John Delaney said: “We thank Giovanni Trapattoni, Marco Tardelli and Fausto Rossi for the last five and a half years during which we qualified for our first major tournament in ten years and were close to qualification for 2010 World Cup in South Africa after the play-off in France. This particular World Cup campaign has been disappointing but Giovanni leaves us with a group of good young players which should form the basis of the squad that the new manager will use for the European Championships in France 2016 when 24 teams qualify.”

The Board of the FAI will meet in due course to discuss the process of appointing a new manager.”

So, the quest is now on to find the next man to lead Ireland to the European Championships in France in 2016. For the next two matches (away to Germany and home to Kazakhstan), Ireland will be led by Noel King, the current Irish under 21 manager.

King, The 56-year-old has managed Derry City, Shamrock Rovers, Limerick, Finn Harps and the Irish women’s team from 2000 until 2010, when he took over as men’s Under-21 boss.

It was concluded at a board meeting that the FAI would carry out a comprehensive assessment to find out who the next manager would be – with the appointment likely to be made by Christmas.

A statement read: “It was agreed at the meeting that former international Ray Houghton, who was involved in the last managerial appointment process, and Ruud Dokter, the FAI’s newly-appointed high performance director, should carry out this on-going assessment and report for the board. The board resolved that it will take the appropriate time to appoint the best person to manage Ireland for the Euro 2016 campaign, which starts in September next year.”

The main frontrunner for the job is former Aston Villa and Celtic manager, Martin O’Neill. The Ulster man has been out of work since leaving Sunderland in April 2013 and the 61-year-old may well see the job as a challenge to take before one final return to club management.

With the likes of Mick McCarthy backing O’Neill (Big Mick did have a clause in his contract which expired in august stating he could be approached to take the Ireland job with no compensation to be paid to Ipswich Town if he left), and Chris Hughton and Brian McDermott also distancing themselves from the role, it’s seemingly looking like a shoo-in for O’Neill… but you never know if the FAI decide to go a different route as no one was really expecting Trapattoni to be appointed.

Whoever the new manager is, a number of players will be available for selection for him that weren’t for Trapattoni. These include Darron Gibson, Anthony Stokes and Andy Reid, who hasn’t been involved in the Ireland set-up since 2008.

Ireland can only hope for damage limitation in their away tie in Germany, but can at least end the campaign on a high with a morale-boosting victory over Kazakhstan, before the appointment of the new manager readies himself for the next competitive game for Ireland in September 2014.