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Now give Trap his new deal

NOW, it's down to the nitty, gritty. Giovanni Trapattoni has done his job and delivered on the job specification. The only question now is how much it will cost the FAI to keep him.



After a night of nights in Lansdowne Road and a slightly anti-climactic result against a proud and competitive Estonian team, qualification for Euro 2012 finally became a reality and the story moved on.

A deal will be worked out, of that there can be no doubt. It would be extraordinary at this point if the FAI let Trapattoni slip through their fingers.

They chose the right course when they left the issue of a new contract hanging and effectively made qualification a deal breaker.

Some months ago, it became clear that Trapattoni had salary expectations which didn't match the FAI board's idea of a fair wage and it would have been folly to press on regardless, particularly without confirmation one way or the other about Denis O'Brien's ongoing financial commitment.

But now, as someone said last night, Trapattoni has a gun at each hip and both are loaded. The FAI will have to meet his price and that applies even if O'Brien chooses to back away.

Qualification parties happen very rarely in this country and Ireland's best footballers should enjoy every minute of the soft glow of success they will bask in for some time to come.

Before they headed off into a night to remember, the players said they want Trapattoni to stay and take them to Brazil. Once again, a disciplinarian who brooks no opposition and enjoys a larger-than-life personality has found a way to tap into the Irish sporting psyche.

Tallinn changed everything and the perception of Trapattoni's team as a dour reflection of a cautious man was transformed utterly.

Goals win games and a lot of goals spawn hyperbole. But that |4-0 win was the ingredient |Trapattoni and his players needed to win hearts and minds and its impact cannot be underestimated.

Earned

It put a blowtorch under what has been, up to now, a lukewarm relationship with Irish football fans. Now, if a player is caught by cameras or the texting militia in a pub at the wrong time, grace will be given to players who have earned it – just like their predecessors many moons ago.

Not that we should expect much after-hours drinking within this squad. Trapattoni's rule is now law and the players |seem to have bought into it, lock stock but no barrel.

He let them off the leash last night. For once, Trapattoni's iron discipline relaxed and rightly so. There's only so much austerity a footballer can take.

“They can go and have some beer now and a party,” said Trapattoni after the game. “But it's best I don't see this.”

Best indeed. His Italian and continental sensibilities struggle to cope with the notion of a gallon of beer emptied down one neck.

It is a now a potent force, this combination of Trapattoni and his increasingly confident players. The bond strengthens with each game.

Chests have expanded by a matter of inches throughout the squad and the manager has made a huge impression on men such as Stephen Ward, Glenn Whelan and Keith Andrews to name but three.

They were Ireland's three best operators and played with a swagger for much of the first-half against Estonia. As the minutes ticked by and the pass count grew, we saw more and more of the ability which marked all three as more than just promising from a very early age.

There are literally hundreds of similar kids playing football right now for schoolboy clubs around the country but very few will stick the course.

There are as many pitfalls as there are candidates for a career in professional football but if Trapattoni was to walk away tomorrow, he would leave a much stronger legacy than any other manager apart from Jack Charlton.

There is even an argument to say that Trapattoni's willingness to embrace players who probably felt that they would never have a chance to follow the dream inspired by Euro ’88, Italia ’90 and USA ’94 must have a greater impact than Charlton's desultory approach to under-age football.

Kids can see that Trapattoni will take a chance on a player who hasn't followed a |gilded path to the Premier League – and that |also provides great encouragement for every Irish player in England and Scotland at the moment.

Perhaps Trapattoni's clean-slate view of the list of names he was given from day one allowed him to see things in players which might have been lost in the bump and grind of lower division football. That was certainly the case with Whelan and now Ward.

His goal lit up an already giddy night. |Aviation enthusiasts among the crowd turned Lansdowne Road into a landing strip and some of the paper aeroplanes constructed from the green cards left in every seat flew well enough to carry passengers.

The wave was back too, that awful American invention which does nothing for a football match other than distract the eye and insult the players.

It persisted even after Estonia's class act Konstantin Vassiljev punctured the celebratory bubble briefly and, thankfully, subsided to a more traditional standing ovation for the players and |Trapattoni when the deed was done and the game finished.

It is great to be able to look forward to summer days and balmy nights in Eastern Europe, brilliant that we won't be on the outside looking in for another tournament finals.

And that old fox Trapattoni with us, his eyes twinkling and a plan in his refined football brain to cause a bit of havoc among the big seeds.

Brilliant.


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