NIALL QUINN has slammed Giovanni Trapattoni's defensive approach, which he blames for the late concession of an equaliser against Austria last month that could cost Ireland their place at next year's World Cup.
Ireland were on track for a 2-1 win that would have put them in a strong position in their qualifying group, but David Alaba's last-gasp goal leaves the Italian and his side with an uphill task to reach the finals in Brazil.
Former Sunderland, Manchester City and Ireland striker Quinn remains mystified by the decision to bring on an extra midfielder in Paul Green, only to play him on the right and push Jon Walters up front, and said that he would have been angered by the decisions if he had been playing at Lansdowne Road that night.
"If I was a centre-forward playing in that team I would be furious with the manager for not going on and winning that game and giving me the chance to score a couple of goals for my country," he said.
"Any Irish team worth its salt would have gone on from that and scored a third goal and given us all a great night at the stadium.
"But to retreat as we did into a negative style that the team has ingrained in it under Trapattoni was tough to watch.
"Austria were on their knees, they were gone in that second half and one chance came their way and it wasn't even a close effort and the whole stadium gasped, because we all knew what was going to happen, that we were going to drop back and try and hang on to this lead. It was a really excruciating last 30 minutes.
"You go 2-1 up at home to Austria and you are saying this has to be three, four. Austria would have been expecting that in the past, but Austria knew that the way we play they were going to get a chance to come back into the game. That's the bit that has to be removed.
"I felt really sure for the first 25 of those 30 minutes that he would bring a fifth midfielder on and shore it up as teams do generally.
"Inexplicably, having brought the midfielder on, he moved it around so that we didn't have a fifth midfielder in the team – it was obvious that you had to stop Alaba.
"In my time, whether it was Jack (Charlton) or Mick (McCarthy), they would have spotted Alaba was the dangerman, but he put Paul Green on the right wing, moved Walters up front and took Shane Long's energy and legs off.
"It increased the chances of Alaba having an impact and the ball broke to him. These are the fine lines, you can say it's hard luck, but that was a wonderful opportunity wasted for us to finish second."
Speaking at the launch of Dublin Bus' Community Spirit Awards at the Mansion House yesterday, Quinn stopped short of repeating his call for Trapattoni's head, but he feels that the era is set to come to an end in September when Ireland face Sweden and Austria in a four-day period, before they travel to Germany a month later.
"The Sweden result gives him a lifeline," Quinn said. "We didn't capitalise on it and the reality is that the whole group will depend on these three games next autumn.
"The FAI have obviously made the decision that he's staying. I take that on board. But, for me, those three games, we'll probably know one game in where our future lies and it may be that we have to change after that," he said.
"I'm not here with a big hatchet, executing, but what I'm saying is that the Trapattoni era looks as if it is coming to an end.
"He's done great everywhere he's been. I just find that the whole communication side of things has been difficult, (so has) understanding the negative tactics.
"Something has to be ingrained into that team, when you have a 2-1 lead at home in such an important game against a team who are down on their knees, you go and win it 3-1 or 4-1 and the players become heroes because you've scored lots of goals."