Trap's success comes at a cost
Italian manager set to be rewarded with six-figure bonus payment and a lucrative new contract looks inevitable
GIOVANNI Trapattoni will be a €2m-a-year manager again after Ireland book their place in Euro 2012 tonight, with a bonus for making the finals set to erode the pay-cuts he has taken during his tenure.
The Irish boss is set to collect a substantial six-figure bonus on top of his €1.7m-a-year salary as a reward for taking his team to Poland and Ukraine.
And making next summer's finals has left Trapattoni with most of the aces as he prepares to enter serious negotiations to extend his deal by another two years.
Once tonight's game is out of the way, the next priority for the FAI board will be to clarify the manager's situation.
He wants to stay on for another two years, but has warned his employers that the matter needs to be resolved, and recently pointed out he could leave before next summer's finals, even though nobody in Abbotstown expects that situation to develop.
Behind his charming exterior at press conferences, the 72-year-old has strong feelings about his own worth and, after delivering a substantial boost to the association's coffers, he will look for those efforts to be recognised.
It was, therefore, unsurprising that he used part of yesterday's pre-match press conference to point out that level of professionalism he has brought to the squad over the past three and a half years. The Italian hasn't been shy about letting the association know what he has brought to the table before they sit down around it. Now, the shadow-boxing is over.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER TONIGHT?
The FAI have said they will wait until the end of the play-offs to move on the manager's contract, so that time is now. Chief executive John Delaney (pictured right) has stressed that it is a board issue, so they will have to meet over the next week to plot the way forward.
Members of the board have indicated that they are happy with the manager and, realistically, they have to make Trapattoni an offer after he met the requirement of his existing deal by taking Ireland to a major tournament.
The question is, given the wider financial picture at the FAI, how much can they stump up -- even with the continued support of Denis O'Brien?
WOULD TRAPATTONI WORK FOR LESS?
It would be a huge surprise if he was prepared to take another cut. Trapattoni was hired on €2m a year, it was reduced to €1.8m ahead of this campaign, and then down to the region of €1.7m 12 months ago when a number of staff in Abbotstown were let go and pay-cuts were the norm across the company.
It may have been a different story if he sat down in August to discuss a deal when Ireland's Euro 2012 fate was in the balance but, by waiting until now, the FAI always left themselves open to a situation where the manager has a strong bargaining position.
With a minimum of €8m for qualification, he will argue that some of this cash should go towards securing the future of the manager and his back-room team.
DOES HE HAVE OTHER
The manager has said he has no plans to retire and indicated that he would like to stay in international football.
Trapattoni has already been approached by another country during this campaign, although he refused to disclose the identity.
With the African Nations Cup in January, and other countries looking for a boss after their campaigns come to an end, the 72-year-old would be an attractive proposition.
While an internal debate in Ireland rages on over the manager's methodology, the rest of Europe is amazed by his achievements. Their perception of Ireland is that of a small country punching above its weight, so this has put Trapattoni back on the map.
From afar, they are bemused at criticism of his performance with this Irish squad.
COULD HE REALLY WALK AWAY BEFORE THE FINALS?
It would be more dramatic than anything that happened in Saipan and the FAI can't really approach discussions fearing that eventuality, even if the manager put it out there last month.
In this regard, it's worth remembering how much this achievement means to Trapattoni, considering that he was written off in some of the countries where he previously worked before taking the Ireland job.
He left Austrian club Red Bull Salzburg to replace Steve Staunton -- the lowest-profile post in his career. Next summer's finals gives Trapattoni the chance to rub shoulders with football people from not just his native Italy, but also Germany and (most likely) Portugal -- two other nations that were significant stops on his journey.
His stint as Italy manager ended in failure at Euro 2004. He really isn't going to walk away from an opportunity to return to that stage.
SO, THERE WILL BE TWO MORE YEARS OF TRAP?
Yes, with the players calling for his retention, the public enthused by qualification for the finals, and the reality that a difficult World Cup campaign starts two months after Euro 2012, the FAI can't really afford to risk destabilising a set-up that has delivered consistency.
He won't come cheaply, though, something that the Abbotstown authorities will have to accept.