Trap eyes €3m deal
‘We deserve this agreement, for what we have done’
GIOVANNI Trapattoni says that agreeing a two-year extension to his contract should be a "formality," with the Italian convinced he deserves it after leading Ireland to Euro 2012.
The Irish manager insists that money is not an issue and is in line to put pen to paper on a deal that should be worth in excess of €3m over the duration after receiving clarity on his position from the FAI on Tuesday night.
Trapattoni is currently paid €1.7m a year, with half of that fee paid by businessman Denis O'Brien. The FAI are keen to cut costs across the board, yet the 72-year-old -- who has taken two paycuts since taking over in 2008 -- will be reluctant to take another drop.
And he knows he is in a strong position, considering he has delivered what his employers wanted.
"The FAI came to find us because they believed we could help Ireland to achieve this result," he said. "That's what we are here for.
"We deserve this agreement, for what we have done until now. We always said we didn't want to put any pressure on the FAI until qualification was sorted out and, more than likely, in the near future, we will discuss the details."
With the FAI board believed to be meeting next week, and Trapattoni and CEO John Delaney set to be in Kiev in a fortnight's time for the finals draw, matters should progress quickly.
Of course, the 72-year-old is being more than a little mischievous when he claims that he never applied any pressure on the Abbotstown authorities. Since the summer, the management team have met queries about the contract situation with relish rather than reticence.
Indeed, when a spot in the play-offs was secured, the manager was determined to point out that the Trapattoni/Marco Tardelli partnership was the right ticket for a further two years, whatever happened.
However, he finally appeared to acknowledge yesterday that it would have been curtains if Estonia had come out on top over 180 minutes.
"We are all responsible people and we were aware that, had we failed, things could have gone differently," he admitted.
It's a moot point now, though. The ticket for next summer is booked, and Trapattoni will be at the steering wheel for the road to Brazil.
He was in good form at Dublin Airport on the morning after the night before. His team had celebrated into the early hours, but the manager retired early. "I usually contain my anger," he said. "And, also, I contain my joy." So, in other words, he left the partying to others. Instead, there was a feeling of quiet satisfaction.
"I'm happy with the job we have done and that's enough for me," he asserted, extending the praise to the entirety of his back-room staff, with video analyst Brian McCarthy coming in for special mention. "I break his balls," Trapattoni chuckled.
He also mentioned Tardelli as a possible successor in the long term. "Everything is possible," said the assistant, when pressed afterwards.
For now, the next mission for the duo is to further justify their worth by plotting the ideal preparation for next summer. On two fronts, there is work to do.
Firstly, in tandem with the FAI, he needs to identify the right opposition for friendlies and a proper training camp, with all eyes set to be trained on that aspect of proceedings on the 10-year anniversary of Saipan.
Secondly, he must identify the 23-man squad to bring to the finals. Several squad regulars will miss out, and there were ominous words for the likes of Liam Lawrence and Leon Best when Trapattoni said that Shane Long was the only obvious addition to Tuesday's panel.
"More or less this is the squad with one more, that's Long," he said. Experience has taught him that four strikers for a major tournament is an adequate number, but he seems likely to extend it to five to accommodate Robbie Keane, Kevin Doyle, Long, Simon Cox and Jonathan Walters, reasoning that Long and Cox can both operate on the wing.
He didn't mention Andy Keogh by name, but he is another that offers a bit more versatility.
Trapattoni's logic is that defenders and midfielders are more likely to pick up a suspension in the tournament, so, basically, it makes sense to bring an abundance of them.
He is confident that his team will perform on the big stage. Trapattoni repeatedly lists powerful nations that Ireland have encountered over the past three and a half years, and feels the experience of those jousts will serve Ireland well regardless of who they are paired with.
"We have lost only two (competitive) games -- one against Russia and one against France," he continued. "I think our job until now has been very important and we've answered what the FAI have asked of us.
"There are many strong European teams. Germany, England, Greece, Spain, Russia, Italy, Netherlands... I really want to try and play these big teams, as it would be a very proud occasion for our players. And they must believe we are the same level.
"Maybe over 10 games against these teams, no. But over 90 minutes, we have a chance. I remember in my own past, I was not a great player and I came up against Pele, Cruyff and Eusebio. But I became famous because I did well as an underdog."
Another element of the build-up will be the handling of the circus, with an early taste of that over the last week. The Sky man was evidently on a mission to ask Trapattoni about the WAGS, a hot topic across the water since England's shenanigans in Germany back in 2006.
With a couple of unfunny comedians infiltrating the post-match press conference in Tallinn, and Louis Walsh suggesting that Robbie Keane has the voice to sing the official song, there's a certain amount of craic and begorrah surrounding this achievement that will have to be controlled from the top.
In that regard, the presence of a manager who has dealt with 10 times worse in his role as Italy manager is unquestionably of benefit. He will do things his own way, and believes the rewards should follow.
"You become old if you dwell on your achievements," he said. "And you stay young if you keep searching."
There's life in this old dog yet.
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