Last week’s backing of Giovanni Trappatoni for the 2014 World Cup campaign by the FAI came as a shock to most football fans throughout Ireland and indeed the world, including myself. Yet, what choice did the FAI have?
Elvis Presley’s “Suspicious Minds” has played in my mind all week long. The reason for this, is the incredible link in lyrics of the 1969 classic, to the the bizarre and astounding decision of the FAI to allow Giovanni Trappatoni’ reign of terror of the Irish squad continue. As a fan of the Irish national squad all my life, through the good times and the bad, I have never seen my loyalty towards the squad and the country questioned once. That was, until last weeks’s debacle that was the thrashing the Germans delivered to us on that faithful Friday night in which 6-1 echoed throughout the boos at the Aviva Stadium.
Pundits and fans alike called for Trappatoni’s head. I found myself, an avid Irish football fan, asking questions towards Trappatoni’s loyalty and stubbornness, which were word for word reminiscent of Mr. Presley’s career-revitalizing single, “Why can’t you see, what you’re doing to me, when you don’t believe a word I say?”, “We can’t go on together..”. It was soon Tuesday, and for the first time in my life, I found myself hoping that the boys in green would not get a result in the Faroe Islands, for the sole purpose of allowing the FAI to see that the reign of the Italian must come to a sudden and necessary stop.
Yet, the players managed to string together a solid second half performance coming out 4-1 winners, despite a lagging first half which ended goalless. Despite the fact that it was the heaviest defeat the Faroe Islands had suffered since 2007, this was a performance and result that denied the inevitable. Yes, the performance was more than adequate, yet, the problem was , the shackles that were released on our players that night were only momentary and were due to the opposition and not the manager’s confidence in his team’s abilities. There is slmost a guarantee these shackles would not have been taken off if our opposition were that of Austria or Sweden.
Soon it was Wednesday, and reports came through the wire that the FAI were discussing Trappatoni’s future and my hopes and the hopes of thousands were almost that of a realization. Then the news broke. Considering the man’s wages alone, believed to be within the region of €1.4 million per year, one can only imagine the compensation the FAI would have to dish out if they had decided to offload the Italian. Trappatoni’s stubborn figure throughout his 4-year tenure with the Ireland camp was a sure-fire indication that he had no plans to step aside himself.Reports would indicate that Dennis O’Brien, the businessman worth an estimated €3.5 billion, believed to pay more than half of Trappatoni’s wages per year, allowed the FAI to make their decision no matter the cost of compensation would be.
Despite all the negativity surrounding the topic of Trappatoni, the FAI should be applauded for meeting together and succumbing to fan pressure, which shows their understanding of the Irish people and their concerns. Furthermore, it is to be applauded that the FAI ensured Trappatoni changed his policies in both man management and scouting, resulting in Trappatoni visting his first Premier League game this past weekend. Norwich City’s revelation Wes Hoolahan, former Manchester United and current Everton midfielder Darren Gibson, Steven Reid and James McCarthy’s problems with the 73 year old come to mind.
Ireland and Trappatoni may very well qualify for Brazil and the World Cup, my problem is the way in which we qualify and the way in which we conduct ourselves throughout the campaign on the pitch and off. As John O’Shea claimed following the 6-1 thrashing at the hands of the Germans, “There’s a way to lose a game, and that’s not one of them!”
I will leave you with the song that spearheaded this article and opinion piece.