Time’s Up, TrapPosted: September 7, 2013
“If I look at what we have done in these two years, sure. It’s not my duty, it’s the federation’s, but I wish to remind you since we started this, we have changed 15 players and we have played like the great teams in Europe” – The words of Giovanni Trapattoni after the 2-1 defeat to Sweden at the Aviva Stadium which left Ireland’s bid to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in tatters. The boos at the end of the game spoke volumes. These were the words of a delusional man whose time is up, as they probably were 12 months ago too.
It isn’t the results that are the main source of frustration with the manager. It seems to be a massive cliché at this stage, but it’s the soul destroying football and baffling managerial decisions that are main gripe, and has been for some time. Different names but the same frustration. Inferior players being picked out of position ahead of superior players of that position. Robbie Brady was left on the bench for Simon Cox to get some field time, while Keith Andrews continuously kept James McCarthy out of the side during Trap’s reign. Only this time the manager hasn’t got the buffer of qualification to keep the critics off his back.
The words of the Swedish coach Erik Hamren after the game were also evidence of chickens coming home to roost at the FAI. “I was a little surprised by the way they played. In the last six, seven, eight months, it was more a passing game and more through midfield. Today it was more long passes.” A damning indictment of where this side is at the moment
It will go some way to explaining why Robbie Brady was left on the bench. A young, vibrant winger is usually the player a manager will turn to in a desperate situation. A player who is playing his first season in the Premier League and has scored this season. A player who will excite the crowd and get them off their feet when he enters the fray. But ultimately, he isn’t a player who can win a header and bring others into play in that manner, which is what Simon Cox can do and is why the manager decided to bring him in instead and ultimately failed.
It’s decisions like this why the manager should not have his contract renewed at the end of this campaign. Arguably, he should have gone after the European Championships, but he delivered on his promise to get the team to a major tournament. It has gone from bad to worse since then, however. The draws haven’t been kind, but you always felt that in a big game Ireland could get a point. However, the draw against Austria meant Trap needed to finally get that big win but when he needed that win against a major side, his team regressed and lost.
As for replacements, who knows? Names such as Martin O’Neill and David O’Leary with Jim McGuiness (I know) as assistant have been whispered. All we know at this stage is that a fresh approach is needed. O’Neill wouldn’t bring that. Rene Muelensteen, fresh from his 16 day spell at Anzhi, may be an option. Presumably Alex Ferguson’s former assistant would like to prove a point and that could work in the FAI’s favour. Roy Keane and Mick McCarthy would seem to be popular candidates on both sides of that divide but neither look likely to come in under the current set up.
Either way, it’s up to John Delaney to get this right.