As Trapattoni signs on for another two years, Killian Woods questions how healthy Irish football might be come 2012
The efforts of Giovanni Trapattoni over the course of Ireland’s World Cup Qualifying campaign have reasserted Ireland’s place in international football. His coaching and management approach has redeveloped Ireland into an effective and hard-working side once again. But should chief executive of the FAI, John Delaney, really be looking to prolong Trapattoni’s stay as Irish manager?
Trapattoni’s work with the national team has virtually assured the side of second position in its qualification group for the 2010 World Cup, inevitably setting up Ireland for a two-legged play-off with another European team to qualify for South Africa. Regardless of whether Ireland make the trip south, however, it would be in our long term interests to see Trapattoni move on, as his initial objective of restoring pride back in Irish football is accomplished.
Like Ireland, many international teams have resorted to hiring high profile foreign managers in search of success. Indeed, the practice has been commonplace in Africa for some time now, with the likes of Ghana and the Ivory Coast choosing Eastern European managers to lead their sides.
However, African teams have found the trend hard to buck and now have become constantly reliant on hiring coaches from abroad. With Ireland continuing their association with Trapattoni, there is a possibility that our country could start to fall into the same trend. On paper, high profile managers look impressive and do earn respect of players whose appetite for international football has faded. But, when Ireland need to step up to the next level, these assurances are not enough.
Trapattoni turning Ireland into a tight-knit team again has not been a tactical or management stroke of genius. Before the Steve Staunton era, Ireland were a potent team, tough to defeat both home and away. It could be said that under Trapattoni, we are merely back to where we were four years ago under Brian Kerr: one match away from a second place finish in a World Cup qualifying group.
What must also be addressed is the style of Trapattoni’s football. He has installed in Ireland a stereotypical Italian system, attempting to protect whatever result it has. Before rushing to thank John Delaney for signing up Trapattoni again, fans should reflect on whether they want another two years of unimaginative, sterile football.
The extension of Trapattoni’s contract has been made possible due to wealthy businessman and entrepreneur, Denis O’Brien. The generous contributions of the telecoms magnate mean that the FAI can match the €1.7m annual salary the former Italian national coach has been receiving.
Riding Trapattoni’s wave of success is a dangerous path for Ireland to choose continuously. Questions need to be asked of where the Irish team will be at the end of his new contract.