FAI staying silent after Trap's threat to walk away
THE FAI issued a firm "no comment" last night after Giovanni Trapattoni bizarrely suggested he might walk away from his job as Ireland manager before next summer's European Championship finals -- even if his charges qualify -- in the event of his contract situation remaining unresolved.
Trapattoni made the threat before Thursday's play-off draw pitted Ireland with Estonia, but it didn't enter the public domain until yesterday.
"After we qualify, we can also say our job is done, thank you very much, thank you," said the Italian, whose deal formally ends in April, although an extension will be activated for the finals if Ireland get through next month's play-off.
Trapattoni has consistently made it clear that he would like to stay on for the World Cup 2014 campaign, but the FAI are reluctant to commit until Ireland's Euro 2012 fate is clear. FAI chief executive John Delaney stressed last week that no further talks would take place until after the play-off against Estonia.
Trapattoni would have preferred to resolve matters before then in case Ireland missed out, but landing Estonia -- the lowest-ranked team left in the competition -- changes the picture somewhat.
With Ireland strong favourites to progress, the smart move for the 72-year-old could now be to wait and see if his team can live up to their billing.
That would leave him in a far stronger bargaining position when it comes to agreeing a new deal. Realistically, the FAI would struggle to maintain his €1.7m salary if Ireland miss out on Poland & Ukraine. However, if Ireland book their ticket, and a minimum prize of €8 million, then Trapattoni's pay claims would be stronger.
With so much expectation around the Estonia encounters, the FAI accept that it would be a big risk to award a new deal beforehand and then risk having the decision completely undermined if it all goes wrong.
Trapattoni has not been shy to use the media to make his feelings clear, but it really is far-fetched to believe that the veteran would skip the chance to be on the major stage again next summer.
After being written off in his native Italy and in some of the other countries where he has managed, he would relish being at the top table once again.
And Jonathan Walters looks like being a major factor in the battle to cross the final hurdle. He delivered another reminder of his ability with a key goal for Stoke in their weekend win over Fulham.
With Ireland's striking options depleted by Kevin Doyle's suspension for the first leg and doubts surrounding Robbie Keane, Anthony Stokes made a claim with a weekend brace for Celtic in their comeback to draw with Kilmarnock but his prospects are slim with Trapattoni unconvinced by the Dubliner.