Results are what managers are defined and remembered by. The cream always rises as the cliche goes.
Take Chelsea for example; Mourinho produced banal, mundane performances on a weekly basis, and for this reason was sacked by Roman Abromovich. Ever since, the Russian billionaire has failed to find a replacement to combine his dream style of football with the concrete consistency of results obtained under ‘The Special One.’
Now take Trapattoni. Yes, he did what Brian Kerr and Steve Staunton failed to do and brought us to a major championships, having previously been hindered by an unprecedented amount of bad luck in his bid to qualify for South Africa. But with a slide in fortunes since qualification was achieved last November, there are calls for his head.
Giovani Trapattoni is a man on a mission; having essentially failed as international manager of his native Italy, he set about restoring his reputation with the boys in green, before ultimately being embarrassed on the big stage.
He has taken the reigns for one more campaign to prove his doubters wrong, a contract which there are suspicions that he had not expected to be willing to sign. Perhaps this school of thought provides some answers when we attempt to interpret some of the more irrational decisions made since he took over.
First of all, he believed that he was there until Euro 2012 and no longer. He could make a huge ‘told-you-so’ statement to his doubters at home in Italy before his retirement. This did not go strictly to plan of course, and he is back for some unfinished business. In any sport, it is not the manager who has laid the foundations for a great team who is remembered, but the manager who guides them to greatness. The Italian does not care for the fortunes of the Republic of Ireland after he is gone and has not been blooding young talent as a result. This has led to the likes of Seamus Coleman, James McCarthy and Marc Wilson being left out in the cold. He is all about the present, one last hurrah, and it was no surprise that Ireland brought the oldest squad to Poland and Ukraine.
In our recent qualifier against Kazakhstan our failure to break down the poor opposition for the majority of the game raised many eyebrows. It can be argued that it is only the result that matters and we have been clinical against such opposition under Trap’s reign, but had Kevin Doyle not managed to smash home that late winner; would he still be in the job?
The friendly win against Oman did offer some hope for the future, with young talents like Robbie Brady given a chance to shine, but can we really expect the 71 year-old to throw them in the deep end by handing them a start against Germany next month? He appears to have a natural distrust in young players to deliver on the big stage, as we have seen time and time again, the most recent example being the retirement of Damien Duff. Tardelli announced that they would do their utmost to bring the Fulham captain out of retirement, clearly not trusting his natural successor, James McClean, and instead attempting to drag out of position his tried and trusted to paper up the crack.
Winning this qualification group is more optimistic than any of our wildest dreams, but with a real push, second is achievable. Trapattoni must embrace the younger players, with the inclusion of James McCarthy and James McClean essential. If he goes down this road, Trap is still the man for the job to squeeze us past Sweden and Austria into second place in Group C.