Giovanni Trapattoni’s reign as Republic of Ireland manager appears to be over after Austria dashed his hopes of making it to next summer’s World Cup finals in Brazil.
Barely an hour after David Alaba’s 84th-minute winner at the Ernst Happel Stadion had left Ireland six points adrift of second-placed Sweden with just two rounds of Group C fixtures remaining, the Football Association of Ireland cancelled the 74-year-old Italian’s scheduled press conference in Dublin this afternoon and revealed its board was considering its options.
The statement read: “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.“
Former Sunderland manager Martin O’Neill, who was relieved of his duties at the Stadium of Light at the end of March, was leading the bookmakers’ list of potential replacements even before the reverse in Austria, and the 61-year-old’s odds had shortened to 3/1 with Ladbrokes within hours of the final whistle in Vienna.
Trapattoni had earlier admitted his future did not lie in his own hands, but once again insisted he would not walk away.
He 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, (I would) 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 would cost the FAI around €900000 to pay up the remainder of Trapattoni’s €1.2m-a-year contract, which is half-funded by businessman Denis O’Brien, to bring an end to his five-and-a-half-year spell in charge.
It was Bayern Munich star Alaba who looks to have done for the veteran Italian, his 84th-minute strike securing the victory which kept alive Austria’s own hopes of qualification.
It was the second time in five months that Alaba had broken Irish hearts, having scored a 93rd-minute equaliser at the Aviva Stadium in March to deny them a victory which would have put them in a strong position.
Austria boss Marcel Koller said: “I know he (Alaba) is a young player and with his 21 years, of course, he still misses a little experience.
“Nevertheless, he played a great game, took great responsibility for our attack and, of course, scored the goal.”