Monday 16 October 2017

'Yes, there were concerns expressed by board members ... but the net result was that the management team would be kept on'

FAI chief executive John Delaney has revealed the reasons why Giovanni Trapattoni survived as Irish manager.

Delaney, in a comprehensive interview, lifted the lid on the pressure cooker that was the FAI as calls for Trapattoni's sacking mounted across the full range of media outlets through the week.

But at the end of a hectic seven days, the CEO believes that Irish football has the right man to bring them on the road to Rio.

He admitted that the 6-1 defeat to Germany was a poor performance and that the 10-man FAI board had to do some serious soul-searching before reaching their decision.

After a full and frank meeting with Trapattoni at the FAI headquarters in Abbotstown yesterday, following on from a phone call to Italy on Wednesday night, Delaney is happy that the required changes will be put in place to keep the bid for World Cup qualification on track.

Happy

Delaney, who celebrated his 45th birthday in Torshavn as Ireland defeated the Faroe Islands 4-1 on Tuesday night, said the whole business had been a roller-coaster ride, but was happy with the decision for Trapattoni to continue as manager.

He also said it would have been "inappropriate" for the FAI to make any statement or comment prior to the match with the Faroe Islands.

"From the moment we got beaten by Germany, the speculation on the management was that he was going or gone. I think every newspaper on Saturday morning had written him off," said Delaney.

"It was important that I have eight years' experience in my role.

"There are many decisions made in this organisation and many of them I make, but certainly the appointment or the termination of the senior international manager's contract is a board decision.

"Now, I'll have a decent say, that's for sure in those things, always will, and should have, given my role, but there are nine other board members," he continued.

"It was a very tough night being beaten by Germany the way we were. It was a poor performance and we were beaten badly -- could have been beaten by more if we're honest.

"On Sunday we travelled to the Faroes. Some board members travelled with us, some stayed in Ireland, and the view was we'll have a meeting after the Faroes game.

"It would have been completely inappropriate to comment in between the games.

"Quietly and effectively we met here (FAI headquarters) on Wednesday evening. We had a two or three-hour meeting. There were lots of views expressed, but the decision was to give clarity to the Irish public.

"Yes, there were concerns expressed by board members, there were opinions and all sorts of things said at that board meeting, but the net result then was that the management team would be kept in place

"Some people would say keep the manager, some would say not. That was the opinion in the media, among supporters and within football, but we as a 10-person board had to make a decision.

"I rang Giovanni immediately afterwards and went through the individual points that were raised.

"That went fine. And Giovannni came in here today for a couple of hours. We went through all that again.

"Now he's gone off to Norwich to watch a game at Carrow Road."

So what are the reasons Trap stays in his position?

1. Support of the players

"The players didn't come as a delegation, but on a personal basis I know some of the players very well, I've dealt with them through many issues, from requests for tickets to bonus payments," said Delaney.

"Without commenting on individual players, the view of the players is always part of any decision-making process.

"It's important to know that the players wanted Trapattoni to stay. It was an important piece of information -- not a determining factor but it's important.

"Were it the other way around, it's obviously a negative. The fact that the players wanted him to stay in broad terms is a positive."

2. Trap's record over the last two qualifying campaigns

"If you look at it , he's been successful to date. We've been third seeds twice.

"For World Cup 2010 we came second ahead of Bulgaria, and then had that unfortunate play-off in France," said Delaney.

"For Euro 2012, we were again third seeds in the group, finished above Slovakia, and beat Estonia in the play-offs. So he's been successful, you couldn't argue.

"His first two terms were successful. He achieved what he set out do," added Delaney.

3. Qualifying points gained in Group C table

"We had to sit as a board, and look at it in the cold light of day -- we had six points out of nine. Not many managers in Europe would be let go having had six points out of nine," said Delaney.

"People will say it was a win over Kazakhstan away, but Kazakhstan are not easy opponents."

4. Trap's experience and record

"He's not a novice manager, he's an experienced manager, and has been through these situations before. When you add it all together the board took a view there are strong arguments to keep him," said Delaney.

5. MONEY -- WAS IT A FACTOR?

Delaney has denied that potential gate receipt losses, or the cost of compensating Trapattoni and his staff, were primary considerations.

"First of all you must make a principled decision: do you want to keep the manager or not -- and then you deal with the fallout after that," he said.

"The decision comes first. The money certainly would not have been the determining factor.

"Contracts can be written in certain ways that affect any termination.

"Money is always a concern in Ireland today, about anything. That doesn't apply just to football, that's just Irish life today, but again, it wouldn't have been a determining factor.

"The game against Greece can't be a determining factor in whether you've a manager or not. It's one game, so we decide because of a low turnout against Greece to get rid of the manager?

"Obviously you want the Aviva full. We've spent 90 years trying to build up our own stadium and we own half of it now.

"We've had very big crowds in the last year or so, for Armenia, and Estonia and Germany.

"We'll do our best to promote the Greece game. The Polish game in February should be big. There's still great goodwill between the Irish and the Poles.

"Austria in March will be a big game. We expect a big turn-out for that.

"We do live in tougher times now and understand people have difficulties, but you couldn't retain or let go a manager on the basis of a home game with Greece," concluded the chief executive.

Irish Independent

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