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Dublin: 10°C Tuesday 13 April 2021

'If I was John Delaney, I say Giovanni continue because Giovanni make great job' - Trap

The Ireland manager didn’t sound like a man ready to resign today.

If there are calls for Giovanni Trapattoni to step down, the Ireland boss isn't listening.
If there are calls for Giovanni Trapattoni to step down, the Ireland boss isn't listening.
Image: INPHO/Donall Farmer

IF THIS IS indeed the final chapter of Giovanni Trapattoni’s Ireland reign, then he showed no signs that an impending dismissal is occupying his thought process ahead of tomorrow night’s win at all costs game against Austria.

Defeat in Vienna would almost certainly see time called on his tumultuous spell as manager. Yet when asked about his future once again, he unerringly stuck to the same old script. “Absolutely not,” was his response when asked if he takes notice of the discussions surrounding his future.

“I will continue my job. If I was John Delaney, I say Giovanni continue because Giovanni make great job,” he added before entering a lengthy monologue, relaying the better results of his tenure to support his point.

Then again, it would be foolish to expect the most experienced of operators would be troubled by such speculation. He has been in this position of teetering on the brink before and is unlikely to ever wilt when faced by the media.

Defiant as ever, his pre-match briefing at the Ernst Happel Stadion had all the typical elements we have come to expect: an amusing jibe at a reporter (“Maybe you don’t know, but I know this…”), the strong backing of himself, the obligatory reference to ‘enthusiasmus’ and, gratingly, another stab at the League of Ireland.

The difference between Sweden, Austria and Ireland, according to the 74-year-old, is down to there being leagues in those two countries. Ireland, he claims, does not have a domestic league.

Of course he realises there is a league but the insinuation – that the Airtricity League isn’t good enough to have an impact on the international team  - remains perplexing and completely false. Nobody is disillusioned enough to suggest the link between the league and the international team is very strong but the statistics perhaps indicate that it deserves more credit than Trapattoni is willing to give.

Four former League of Ireland players will start against Austria, with three others in the extended squad who kickstarted their careers domestically. That doesn’t count the likes of Kevin Doyle, who, although jettisoned far away from the squad, lest we forget won the game in Astana 12 months ago, or the recent addition Paddy Madden, who misses out through injury.

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If further proof was needed that his statement stinks of ignorance: Conor Sammon, who Trapattoni has been so fond of, would not be in the squad without the League of Ireland. Then again, it would be entirely unsurprising if Trapattoni was unaware that was the case with so many of his players.

Alongside the manager meanwhile, Robbie Keane delivered a refreshingly passionate response when asked about Ireland lacking alternative ideas after falling behind against Sweden last Friday. Perhaps it was the first signal that the captain would like to veer towards coaching when he decides to put the boots away.

“We talk about Plan A and Plan B and crap like that. Ireland have never had a Plan B before,” Keane said after it was put to him that he touched the ball just twice after Sweden took the lead at the Aviva.. “We’ve always had a Plan A, it’s as simple as that. Since I came into the squad, we’ve always played exactly the same way. We don’t have the personnel like Spain to get the ball down and have 80% of the ball. We’re just not that team. We know our strengths and we stick to it.”

And will that ever change? “Unless it changes from grassroots,” he added. “But that’s not going to change for a good few years. They keep talking in England about trying to change things and make the national team much better. We need to do that as well. But is it going to change straight away? It hasn’t changed from the first minute I walked in that door.”

It may or not have been a damning indictment of the wider issues facing Irish football but at least Keane seemed aware of the importance at grassroots level.

Then again, amid the rhetoric, it was important not to forget that this is also likely to be his last tilt at securing a place at another World Cup. The realisation that qualification is rapidly slipping from his grasp perhaps sparked such a response.

He has promised Ireland are ready to fight against the Austrians to maintain their glimmer of hope. However, the last word fell to the manager: “Anything can happen. I have spoken to the players, they know they must play with pride for our shirt, our team and our country.”

Yet even if they do win, it is impossible to foresee Trapattoni lasting much longer with our team.

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