| 10.4°C Dublin

Manager only ever serves one master - himself

IT was remarkable to watch Giovanni Trapattoni over the last 10 days.

The FAI worked themselves into a frenzy of speculation while he sat back and let them at it.

Without doing very much at all, he survived a heave which would have taken out lesser men and emerged as an untouchable, fully in control of his own destiny again. He's some operator.

On Monday, he will settle down with his pile of DVDs and keep doing what he has been doing.

But the dynamic has changed dramatically despite the fact that the FAI marched themselves up to the top of the hill and just before they hit the summit, fell over in a heap and rolled back down again.

Trapattoni claims that he is just doing a job and that he is not angry about the fact that a senior FAI source was prepared to sell him down the river.

But in his heart, he must be furious with the FAI and we have seen in his dealings with many, many Irish players that his character has a vindictive and unforgiving flaw which falls well short of the standard of professionalism he claims to adhere to.

Put bluntly, he behaves like a petulant child when he believes his authority is threatened and sometimes for no apparent reason at all. The FAI would do well to remember that.

As votes of confidence go, the one Trapattoni received from the FAI was about as wishy-washy as any manager has ever received. If he was a club boss, another two or three games would be about his limit.

But whoever it was that put it out there that Trapattoni would be sacked and told the world as much behind a cloak of anonymity clearly didn't have the right homework done as the argument was lost within the board.


The 10-man body didn't have the stomach to pull the plug when it came down to the hard decision on Wednesday, despite the fact that the practical and popular thing to do was to show Trapattoni the door.

Trapattoni still has supporters among Ireland fans but not very many. They talk about his record and how foolish we would look if we sacked a manager of his great reputation and standing in the world game.

Not half as foolish as Ireland looked against Germany when goal after goal piled into Keiren Westwood's net.

It is ridiculous to suggest that the opinion of anyone else other than Ireland supporters and the FAI should count for anything in a debate about Trapattoni's future.

It makes as much sense as Trapattoni's rationalisation behind naming the same team to face Italy in the final game of Euro 2012 because he was afraid that Spain and Croatia would accuse him of favouring his compatriots by weakening his team.

Trapattoni is at all times aware of his legacy, and he could not countenance the thought that football historians might one day write a chapter about how a great Italian was brought low by accusations of corruption, however mild.

That was the day when it became plain that Trapattoni serves only one master -- himself.

His obligation was to the FAI and young Irish players who sat patiently waiting for a chance while their veteran team-mates collapsed.

It should not have mattered what anyone thought about Trapattoni's team selection. All of the players he selected to travel to Poland had the right to believe that they were good enough to be there, and it must have been a serious slap in the ego to discover that their manager thought that by picking them, he would be accused of cheating the tournament.


After each heavy defeat in Poland, Trapattoni tried to fly above his team and spoke about players who froze in the headlights of a big tournament without ever accepting any of the blame himself.

He went to some lengths to tell the world that Ireland had no real quality other than spirit and his system and he was at it again before, during and after the surrender to Germany.

Even Steve Staunton approached the Germans with the kind of defiance every small nation should expect from their manager when facing up to a world power in Dublin.

Imagine the ructions if Staunton had made the same remarks as Trapattoni did when his German 'friends' were in town and told us that his players were clearly inferior but that Ireland would do their best.

Trapattoni loves the theatre of the game and understands very clearly how he fits into the plot. After decades in harness, he has become a one-man show and across the world, his success and eccentricity attracts admiration and laughter.

But he is not and should not be immune to the natural rhythms of the game; in fact, entirely the opposite.

Every football traditionalist understands that loss of faith and bad results usually mean one thing. But Trapattoni has had his cake and he's eating it.

The bottom line, however, is that trust has broken down between Trapattoni and his employers and, more importantly, between the manager and a disgruntled rump within his squad.

Players lined up to get behind Trapattoni but many did not. If you want to see a true reflection of those who must be quietly horrified by the prospect of another two years living in his shadow, take a look at the moment when Shane Long (pictured left) walloped the ball into the crowd in Torshavn.

There's plenty like him in the squad.