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Capello Isn’t the Only Italian Manager Under Pressure

For the managers of Ireland and England, all problems are relative. After England secured a place in the European Championships with a draw away to Montenegro, one might have expected a reprieve for Fabio Capello and his men. An undefeated qualifying campaign is usually grounds for celebration, or at least contentment. Instead, England is under more scrutiny now than before the campaign began. How Giovanni Trapattoni would love to have such problems. While Capello faces questions surrounding team selection and formation, the only questions directed toward Trapattoni revolve around qualification itself.

Tuesday, the Republic of Ireland must at least draw Armenia in Dublin to keep their qualification hopes alive. An Armenian victory would see the Irish crash out and the former would secure a spot in the playoffs. However, a draw or win for the Republic would see them finish second in Group B behind Russia. Finishing first place is a possibility, albeit a remote one. A Russian loss at home to minnows Andorra, coupled with an Irish win, would see Trapattoni’s men top the group. Regardless of the outcome in Moscow, Ireland and Trapattoni are under immense pressure to at least make the playoffs.

Unfortunately for Ireland, securing a point against Armenia is far from a formality. In qualifying, Armenia has already drawn Russia, defeated Slovakia 4-1 in Zilina, and pushed the Irish all the way in a 1-0 home defeat. If Ireland’s victory against Armenia is any indication, the match at the Aviva Stadium will be intense.

The Armenians are enjoying a rich vein of form, riding three consecutive victories into Dublin. Ireland’s recent results look good on paper as well, having registered four consecutive clean sheets. However, the performances have not been awe-inspiring and therein lies the problem for Trapattoni. In the Irish press, Trapattoni has been consistently criticized for omitting technically gifted footballers in favour of those willing to play in his defensive system. One can assume caution will be the watchword for the Irish Monday night. Trapattoni built a squad that is difficult to beat, but also one that plays a dour brand of football. In a result oriented business that’s fine, as long as the results are there. If Ireland fails to do the minimum against Armenia, the desire of the press to oust the Italian will rise from a background noise to a crescendo.

At the beginning of qualification, if Ireland were offered their present scenario they would have undoubtedly accepted it. Yet, everything is poised for a classic Irish collapse, especially with the news that captain Robbie Keane will be out due to injury. The tension will be palpable Tuesday night, and all the focus will be on Trapattoni. Neutrals will be hoping for an Irish win, eyeing the possibility of a playoff rematch against Les Blues. Capello may be hoping for this development as well, if for no other reason than to have another storyline taking up inches in the sports column.

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  1. Andrei

    October 12, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    And where are protests over horrid officiating that ruined Armenia’s chances and practically handed the game over to Ireland. There were many more people crying foul after Ireland vs France game. A bit of hypocrisy here don’t you think.

    • The Gaffer

      October 12, 2011 at 1:55 pm

      Andrei, I saw it and I thought Armenia got cheated. The goalkeeper should not have been sent off, and Simon Cox handled the ball when he controlled it. I posted my thoughts about it on Facebook. No hypocrisy here.

      The Gaffer

      • Andrei

        October 13, 2011 at 10:01 am

        Gaffer it wasn’t directed at you or EPL Talk. It is just a general observation on how English speaking media was all indignant about Ireland getting robbed in game against France. There were even calls to ban France from the World Cup and Thierry Henry from football. And coincidentally or not France got bumped from the WC seeded pot in favor of England without any feasible reasons. Now Armenia gets cheated in favor of Ireland and what we have is a collective denial in English speaking media. No calls for banning Ireland or Simon Cox. Instead Ireland gets seeded in the playoffs draw.

        • The Gaffer

          October 13, 2011 at 11:33 am

          Andrei, to be honest with you, I don’t think many people watched the Armenia against Ireland game. In Ireland and Armenia, yes. But outside of those countries, I don’t there’s the outrage because people didn’t see the incidents.

          France against Ireland, being a playoff match, had a lot more people watching it.

          The Gaffer

  2. stuanregguj

    October 11, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    Well not a easy game but we won so let us see what Russian does but we are at least in the play-offs. Ireland still can play better but yes agree there are players available if Coach Trap is open to use them. If we want to proceed he better make a few changes but no Keane today was a step back so he will help in the future.

  3. TheBoxBlog

    October 11, 2011 at 7:15 am

    It is going to be such a massive game for Trapattoni us tonight.

    I just hope we get behind him and the team and support them!

    I don’t want fans going to the Armenian game tonight.

    Just supporters –

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