Trapattoni never lost faith
Giovanni Trapattoni could be forgiven for allowing himself a wry smile as he prepares for Friday night's World Cup qualifier against the Faroe Islands.
The last time the teams met, in Torshavn last October, the Ireland manager was fighting for his job amid suggestions his days were numbered regardless of what happened at the Torsvollur Stadium. In the event, the Irish won 4-1, Trapattoni survived and nine months on, a measure of order has been restored.
The Torshavn clash took place four days after Trapattoni had seen his team ripped apart from Germany at the Aviva Stadium, when the group favourites stormed to a 6-1 victory. Asked about a potentially pivotal few days in his reign, the 74-year-old Italian said: "When you have a victory, you are a god; when you lose, it's your fault."
He went on: "It's easier to get rid of one manager than 11 or 13 players. It's the same in club football.
"I have always believed in this team. Remember, we went 12 games without losing and without conceding a goal, then after five minutes against Croatia, we didn't put the ball out, the cross came in, there was a header from 11 metres. That is football."
Ireland's long unbeaten run came before last summer's Euro 2012 finals, where they were undone in the face of a tough assignment against Croatia, Spain and Italy, and the mauling by Germany provided Trapattoni's critics with further evidence to back their case for his removal. However, he remains at the helm and is intent on booking their place in Brazil.
Captain Robbie Keane would like nothing better than to mark a record-breaking 126th appearance by adding to his 56 international goals, and he will be supported by Jon Walters and Simon Cox. Walters will partner the striker, while Cox will start wide on the right on midfield, although Trapattoni will take a flexible approach with the trio and winger Aiden McGeady.
Trapattoni said: "We can change the system. Maybe we can play on the right with Walters and Cox central with Robbie, because in this game it is important to try everything possible to win.
"We can also change with McGeady on the right and Cox or Walters on the left. For example, [James] McClean can't play on the right, but Walters can play right, Cox can play right and McGeady can play right. Maybe after 30 minutes if we haven't scored, we can change this situation. It's not a revolution, but we have to do whatever is possible to try to get a result.
"We will have three strikers on the pitch, and McGeady is an offensive player too, so the wide men can come inside and try to score goals. We can change it and try to make it difficult for the opposition."