Giovanni Trapattoni’s tenure as Republic of Ireland manager appears to be drawing to a close with the Football Association of Ireland considering his position.
Barely an hour after the 74-year-old Italian saw his side slip to a 1-0 defeat in Austria which effectively ended their hopes of World Cup qualification, the FAI cancelled a scheduled press conference in Dublin on Wednesday afternoon.
A statement said: “The recent results against Sweden and Austria were very disappointing for everyone involved in Irish football, the manager, the players and supporters.
“Our aim of qualification, although mathematically possible, is now highly unlikely even though the team will always do everything within their power to keep that hope alive.
“The FAI Board of Management will now consider the current position over the coming period to discuss the recent results.
“The post-match press conference which was due to take place this afternoon in Dublin has been cancelled.”
Trapattoni had gone into the game knowing anything but victory would seal his fate after Friday night's 2-1 home defeat by Sweden and the Swedes' 1-0 victory in Kazakhstan earlier in the day.
However, he was in no mood to tender his resignation as he was grilled about his position during his post-match press conference at the Ernst Happel Stadion with former Sunderland boss Martin O’Neill a hot favourite to succeed him.
Trapattoni said: “It’s for the FAI to decide if they want us to continue or finish our agreement.
“It’s okay if they decide to change us all, but until then, we will continue because it’s not our decision.
“The FAI will decide what to do, but we have an agreement until May 31 or June 1, I don’t know.
“I wasn’t joking the other day when I said if I was [FAI chief executive] John Delaney, evaluate what we have done in the last two years and after decide yes or no. It’s not my job to do this.”
It was a game both sides simply had to win if they were to stand any chance of making it to Brazil next summer, and failure was always likely to prove fatal for Trapattoni.
There was little between the sides in a tense first hour or so with Anthony Pilkington firing into the side-netting and Marc Wilson whistling a long-range effort just over for the visitors and David Forde having to save from David Alaba and Martin Harnik before the break.
But as Austria turned the screw, it was they who took the game by the scruff of the neck during the closing stages.
Seamus Coleman bravely denied both Julian Baumgartlinger and Harnik in quick succession, but it was Bayern Munich starlet Alaba, the man whose late equaliser at the Aviva Stadium in March proved so costly, who sealed Ireland’s fate, blasting home from close range after Marc Wilson could only divert Christian Fuchs’ 84th-minute cross into his path.
Trapattoni said: “After the first half this evening, I had again the dream to win this game because we have two very good chances with Shane Long and also Robbie Keane.
“Over the 90 minutes, I don’t think we played badly, but as the game developed, Austria were a little bit superior.
“But our aim was to achieve third place because after Sweden won, it was not possible to continue thinking about qualifying.”
Ireland now have to travel to Germany next month without suspended central defenders Richard Dunne and John O’Shea and then host the Kazakhs four days later, and it seems certain they will do both without the veteran Italian at the helm.
By contrast, Austria boss Marcel Koller can start planning for a do or die visit to Sweden.
Koller said: “We remain in third place – that means we really have to win in Sweden.
“Sweden are going to play against Germany, but nevertheless, if we want to stay in, we have to win.”