Sport Soccer

Wednesday 13 November 2019

Performance shows folly of persisting with Trapattoni

Richard Sadlier

Replacing the manager is the only way to keep our qualification hopes alive, says Richard Sadlier

If Ireland win in the Faroe Islands on Tuesday, somebody somewhere will say a return of six points from three games is as good as any manager could be expected to earn with these players.

They'll say second place is still a realistic target and they'll say the win shows the depth of character within this squad. They'll say it's all about the next two games. They may even say Giovanni Trapattoni is still the right man for the job.

If you're next to any of them when they say any of this, give them a slap.

There's almost no point in analysing the Germany defeat because Trapattoni's departure is now a matter of time. There's no longer any need to imagine what the players must be thinking because the display they gave on Friday spoke volumes. I have never seen an Ireland team so disjointed in attack, ineffective in defence and without a presence of any kind across midfield.

It's not the first display of its kind during his reign, it's just the worst of its kind. Trapattoni apologists would prefer to stress Germany's strengths, but nobody is fooled any longer by that.

The same approach was used against Kazakhstan a month ago and Andorra two years ago, and it will be used in the Faroe Islands on Tuesday. The world ranking, formation, strengths and weakness of the opposition don't matter, for he knows no other way to send this team out to play. And for all the talk of a change in formation, Trapattoni gave the players the only instructions he has ever given them: kick high and long and early. Be alive to the knock-downs and go from there. And that appeared to be it.

This was no freak result, but the culmination of everything Trapattoni has asked of his players since he took the job. The lack of confidence in the squad is the inevitable result of disparaging public remarks, limited tactical instructions and countless bungled dealings with Trapattoni. The final score was humiliating, but the performance was even worse.

This isn't an aesthetic argument. This isn't Roman Abramovich getting rid of Jose Mourinho because he wanted Chelsea to win in a less ugly way. Ireland are playing ugly football and they're playing losing football. Beating the Faroe Islands will count for nothing. So clear are the limits of the Trapattoni regime that a third-place finish is the most realistic hope in this group. Replacing Trapattoni immediately is the only course of action that keeps qualification hopes alive. Failure to do so would be unforgivable. Conceding six goals should never happen at this level, but that's 16 in the last five competitive games. The most alarming element of the Germany defeat was the complete lack of leadership and fight. Even limited Ireland teams of the past had that.

The players have no option, they must do what is being asked of them, but watching Germany knock the ball around so easily for so long was embarrassing. It's difficult to imagine the squad could be any more demoralised than it must currently be. This is the poorest Ireland have looked in many years.

The folly of persisting with Trapattoni in charge is clear to anyone whose opinion is worth hearing. Only the most deluded can see a way back now. If Denis O'Brien is still behind him, the most valuable contribution he can make now is to pay Trapattoni to leave straight away.

If there are members of the FAI board still unsure, they don't belong there. If John Delaney has even a shred of doubt in his mind, he must go too. The case for keeping him in charge can only be made by spoofers and chancers. Everyone else can see what's really happening here. Rarely has a situation been so clear to assess than the one facing the FAI this morning. The issue is one of finance alone, and Delaney needs to address that immediately. Nothing else should be considered.

The players won't say anything because it will appear disrespectful, and many commentators held off criticising him for the same reasons. But the condescending crap that has been coming from his supporters for a while now is to be tolerated no more. The Euros were tough to watch and Kazakhstan was a shambles, yet Friday evening was an all-time low.

But if you think things won't get worse if he stays, then it's time to give yourself a slap too.

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