There were rumblings of discontent with Giovanni Trapattoni's management of Ireland even in the lead up to Euro 2012, with his reluctance to play James McClean angering many fans, but the performances at the tournament and since have led to far more widespread calls for him to step down. Ireland scraped a win in Kazakhstan in their first World Cup qualifier, before being hammered 6-1 by Germany on Friday. A win against the Faroe Islands would leave them in a reasonable position in their group, but there is a growing inevitability that it won't be Trapattoni who leads the rest of the campaign.
The manager and his staff have fallen out with almost a squads worth of players in his time in charge, the most recent being Stephen Kelly, who was involved in a row with Marco Tardelli over his lack of starts for his country. With players not shy of openly questioning their manager, the writing has to be in the wall for Trapattoni, and now may be the best time to do it.
After the Faroe Islands match Ireland have two home friendlies against Greece and Poland. These matches that will likely be poorly attended if the old regime is still in charge, and making the change before them would allow a new manager a chance to have a look at his players before any competitive matches. Ireland would also be a decent position in their group (providing they beat the Faroe Islands) and qualification would likely rest on the matches with Sweden. There are also people currently available that could be seen to be good options for the job, Mick McCarthy, Owen Coyle and Harry Redknapp have all been linked, with the latter perhaps hoping to get some international experience to bolster his claims for the England job in the future.
However there is an substantial financial impediment to sacking Trapattoni. The Italian is paid £1.2millon a year, a salary partly supported by Irish businessman Denis O'Brien, and the compensation for his dismissal is reported as being around £1.4million, with more for the backroom staff that would also probably go. That is a hefty chunk of money, and Ireland may not be able to offer a similar salary to any successor if O'Brien withdraws his support, limiting their options.
However footballing concerns should take precedence, and if Ireland sell out their friendlies due to a new manager being in place, that may soften the financial blow. If players and fans have lost faith in their manager, then it has to be time to move on.
image: © law_keven