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WORLD CUP QUALIFYING - UEFA

Ernst Happel Stadion

Attendance: 48500

* Local time based on your geographic location.

Austria

  • David Alaba 84'

1 - 0

FT

Goodnight Vienna for Trapattoni?

Giovanni Trapattoni's job will likely be on the line when Ireland take on Austria.

All good things must come to an end, but in football management bad things end a hell of a lot quicker. And that is what Giovanni Trapattoni should discover if the Republic of Ireland's World Cup hopes end in Vienna.

The defeat at home to Sweden has left Ireland needing maximum points from their three remaining Group C games, which includes a trip to Germany next month, as well as a slip up from the Swedes against Kazakhstan. Not asking much, is it?

Well, it is actually because they take on Austria on Tuesday evening at the Ernst Happel Stadium, where the hosts are expecting to pile further misery on a team that is on the brink of imploding due to the frustration built up over Trapattoni's tactics, squad selection and in-game decisions.

It will cost the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) close to €1million to get rid of the fiery Italian before his contract runs out, but that is exactly what the supporters, media and, privately, players want. The highs under his watch are in the past and there have been far too many recent lows, with this qualifying campaign acting as the final straw.

Sitting on one of the best managerial CVs around and a salary worth around €1.2 million per year, Trapattoni is not about to walk away. And his loyal assistant Marco Tardelli believes that he should not even entertain those thoughts despite bookmakers already busily taking bets on Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane to become the 74-year-old's successor.

"The people who are criticising Giovanni now were very happy with him a year ago. We haven't a problem because we understand our job has been very strong. For me, it is very positive. But I don't know what will happen. The FAI know what they will do," said Tardelli.

There are very few break-ups that go smoothly and this certainly looks to be another example. Trapattoni feels that he has done a "great job" since taking over from the mess left behind by Steve Staunton in 2008 and he does deserve credit for reintroducing a professional standard off the pitch and organisation on it. But that is where the praise should end.

Trouble has followed Trapattoni around like a shadow for his five-and-a-half years in charge with public spats with players (including some horrendous accusations being made), a refusal to amend his outdated tactics, constant communication breakdown, and a stubbornness to acknowledge that this current group of Irish players can actually play football.

Trapattoni has always insisted that he should be judged on results, so if Ireland lose to Austria and their chances of reaching next summer's World Cup in Brazil go up in smoke, he should walk by his own accord. But the problem with the Ireland team is more deep-rooted than simply scrapping for points on the international stage.

According to former striker and ex-Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn, now is the time for the FAI to really address why Ireland continue to play catch-up on other nations. And without directly saying it, he shone a light on the fact that none of the Irish youth teams have a connection with Trapattoni's senior side and their development has been an afterthought.

"The reality is that we should expect a long time in the wilderness if we don't realise that we have to prepare young players better for top-flight clubs, players who can hold their own in England," Quinn told the Irish Daily Mail.

"There needs to be a long-term plan and I would like to see the appointment of the next manager reflect that, to be someone who will buy into that and to be given time, without the threat of the sack."

Of course, nothing has been confirmed yet and Trapattoni could still save his job if his team -- despite missing Glenn Whelan through injury -- overcome the Austrians and revive their hopes of snatching second place in Group C behind Germany. It is the only thing that left-back Marc Wilson says they must be focusing on.

"I don't think you can start thinking it's all over. As a squad we know what we have to do, we know ourselves we've got to get three points and hopefully Kazakhstan can get a result against Sweden which can put us back in the group. It's a big game -- we've got to get three points," Wilson said.

Players just want to play and that helps explain Wilson's outlook. But there will be bittersweet feelings amongst Irish supporters if their team falls to defeat in Vienna. The World Cup dream will be over, but so too might be the troubled reign of Trapattoni.

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