Can Trappatoni give the perfect parting gift?

Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trappatoni has of late led what many would call a charmed managerial life. Many would have thanked him and said goodnight after what was an occasionally embarrassing Euro 2012 tournament, which ended with no points and only one goal. The FAI saw fit to give him a chance to lead Ireland to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, but can he do it?

The Irish currently lie in fourth place in Group C, locked in a three-way battle for second with Austria and Sweden. Germany are out of sight at the top of the group, and have already demonstrated their superiority with a chastening 6-1 victory at the Aviva Stadium last October.

With five games to go, there is all to play for, and the Republic will be aiming for at least four wins, as their goal difference took quite a flogging with that Germany defeat. They play Kazakhstan, Sweden and the Faroe Islands, all at home. Anything less than maximum points and they can surely kiss goodbye to qualification, and Trappatoni to his job. Austria and Germany away are not the most promising pair of fixtures, and even a draw in Austria may not be enough, given the aforementioned goal difference conundrum.

As the golden Irish generation winds down, with Shay Given already having retired, and Robbie Keane and Richard Dunne surely not far away from following him, it is a shame how little concrete they have achieved. The 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea provided some wonderful moments, such as the last-gasp 1-1 draw against Germany, and the heart-breaking penalty defeat against Spain.

Eleven years on, there is little to inspire. The midfield has long lacked pace and creativity, and although Aiden McGeady provides some much needed spark, and the hard-working Seamus Coleman is one to watch for the future, Shane Long is the only consistent goal threat once Robbie Keane pops his footballing clogs.

Trappatoni certainly has his work cut out if he is to inspire World Cup qualification, although this week’s 1-1 draw at Wembley shows there may yet be a still in the old Irish rose yet.