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Tuesday 12 December 2017

Player power rescues Trapattoni from axe

PLAYER power helped Giovanni Trapattoni to retain his position as manager of the Republic of Ireland after a dramatic 24 hours.

The Irish Independent has learned the intervention of key senior players in the aftermath of the 4-1 win over the Faroes swayed the FAI board towards standing by their man.

It is understood that captain Robbie Keane -- who strongly backed Trapattoni this week -- played a leading role in pulling the players together and approaching the FAI as a group with a view to keeping the Italian in his job.

The association was willing to part company with the 73-year-old, with this newspaper revealing that senior FAI figures were on the verge of sacking Trapattoni before the end of this week after a board meeting was arranged for last night to discuss his future.

However, the Italian has succeeded in riding out the storm, and will be in the dugout for next month's friendly against Greece at the Aviva Stadium.

"Trapattoni deserves to be given the opportunity to prove himself against Sweden in March and put the record straight," said one FAI official after last night's board meeting.

"It was nothing like the Steve Staunton defeats when FAI headquarters was besieged with phone calls for his sacking. There was only a handful of football people saying Trapattoni should go ."

Earlier, one board member who spoke to the Irish Independent said there was widespread concern about Trapattoni's lack of fluency in English, his refusal to travel to England to watch Premier League games and his handling of the and Stephen Kelly issue.

The FAI, who would have been forced to shell out a significant sum to terminate the contract of Trapattoni and his back-room staff, will be hoping that the Irish public respond by turning out for that fixture.

Disillusionment with Trapattoni reached a peak after his team suffered the worst competitive home defeat in Irish football history at the hands of Germany last Friday night.

An improved display in Torshavn, in tandem with a rally from leading players, contributed significantly to the FAI's change of plan.

Aware of the manager's precarious position, the players sought out the FAI hierarchy to make their case to the FAI.

Captain Keane said after the game against the Faroes that the Italian was "everyone's man", while Keith Andrews went further by saying that he would be "devastated" if the veteran left his post.

Last night, a statement from the FAI has confirmed the manager's retention.

"Giovanni Trapattoni is to remain in charge of the national team. The board recognises the depth of feeling surrounding the team, the performances, the results, and the manager, reflecting the passion which everyone in Irish football has for the game, and will continue to work closely with the manager," the statement said.

This newspaper revealed earlier on this week that the FAI board had lost confidence in Trapattoni and would hold an emergency board meeting when the team and officials returned from Torshavn.

It had been expected that the coaching staff would get the sack, but following a spirited second half performance in which Ireland scored four goals and the subsequent pleas from the players, he has now won a reprieve, for now.

Irish Independent

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