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Dead man walking

WELL he was never going to make it easy, was he? The tide is running strongly against Giovanni Trapattoni but he will resist any attempt to make him walk a plank.

BUT the FAI has turned and the level of background noise arguing for change has risen in volume to a point where it must be addressed.

A board meeting will take place before the end of the week -- more likely sooner than later -- and there will be one item on the agenda. But even if there is now a definite move against Trapattoni, nothing should ever be taken for granted where the FAI are concerned.

Should Trapattoni's late, late attempt to appease those who are seeking change - by throwing Robbie Brady, Marc Wilson and, again, Seamus Coleman into the mix for the Faroes - produce a big performance and a big win, it would certainly test the resolve of those who currently feel that Trapattoni's ship has sailed.

But there is a momentum now for change which is all but unstoppable and has roots in the aftermath of Euro 2012.

Speaking with various FAI officials over the course of the tournament, it was very clear that some, at least, felt that a quick changeover in July would have been by far the best option given how bad the football side of the Poland experience was for everyone.

But the FAI has never been decisive in any meaningful way. It is an organisation of many parts, and change on the scale that is now being contemplated has never progressed rapidly.

It is coming though, and the only issue is how quickly it will happen and how messy it will be. Candidates are lining up and already speculation about the likely key characters is rife.

Gossip bloomed on forums and there was talk of Mick McCarthy cancelling an interview with Bolton yesterday, although Harry Redknapp's name is the one attracting the most attention. Sources suggest that he could well be interested but has not been approached.

The strong word is that Roy Keane will not work with FAI CEO John Delaney which, presumably, rules him out of any succession stakes. But this a game of politics as much as football and many times in the past, mortal enemies have found a way to get along, either for mutual benefit or the greater good.

Finance or the lack of it will be the key decider in all of this. Trapattoni never captured the heart and attention of the nation so completely that every game was an instant sell-out even though he did win qualification for the big show.

In fact, the opposite is the case and there is no doubt that key FAI men are hugely concerned about the number of tickets they will sell for the November friendly against Greece if the team still belongs to Trapattoni. That alone is a valid reason to look for an alternative.

They are also worried about the long term impact of a series of bad performances and results on the fate of Ireland's ambition to qualify for the World Cup in Brazil.

That, if nothing else, will bring urgency to this situation and the irony is that Trapattoni could hasten his own demise by claiming three points in Torshavn. Qualification for Brazil would then still be very much alive and a new manager would have the friendly against Greece and a four-month gap to get to grips with his job.

Another key element in this is the mind of Denis O'Brien and whether he is prepared to continue his funding of the Ireland manager's position with someone other than Trapattoni in the saddle.

Ideally, the FAI should pay its own bills, but the Aviva debt overshadows everything in that regard and O'Brien's help will be needed.

He recently described Trapattoni as one of his best investments ever and we simply do not know whether he will be minded to invest more money in this project. One way or other, he will have a part to play when the FAI do make the big leap.

It was sad to see Trapattoni so uncomfortable in his natural environment yesterday when he sat down for his pre-match press conference. He had prepared notes but looked out of the window or up at the ceiling while he delivered them. He was very obviously nervous and upset.

He was asked once again whether he should remain as Ireland boss and he gave the same answer he's been giving since Spain ripped the heart out of his team: Why?

If he truly doesn't know, that in itself is damning.

He brought the team to the European Championships and fulfilled the part of his contract which required results.

But in many other aspects of his management, he has left debris lying all over the place and, as a result, there is now a very clear division between the old and the new in the Ireland squad.

Senior players have been ambivalent about Trapattoni for some time, but they get to play in just about every game so it is understandable that men like Robbie Keane, John O'Shea and Keith Andrews would publicly stand behind their manager.

But the young lads have been the biggest victims of Trapattoni's perverse nature and they see no great future in working with him.

They also have long careers in front of them and know that Trapattoni will move on. The only question now is when?


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