Can Trap make a change we all believe in?
Tuesday was a good and a bad day for Ireland, writes Setanta Sports' Paul Dempsey, but sorry folks, more bad than good.
So it’s not the end of The Italian Job, after all. Good news, I say, in one respect. We avoid a painful arrivederci with the Italian who has given us so many hours of beguiling interview time, a sprinkle of international glamour and a dazzling smile to lift the gloom.
But enough about Manuela. She stays on, and who knows, will now play an even more central role, if the FAI really do insist that Giovanni Trapattoni's press conferences are conducted in Italian and then passed on by the playmaker with the winning personality.
Otherwise Tuesday was not good, not good at all. Sweden, almost inexplicably, came back from four down to draw with Germany. This tells us two things; getting the win against Sweden we are likely to need is going to be even more difficult than imagined; and actually, as most Germans know, their own team is not quite the feared machine some would believe.
Still, to have such problems. Several factors came together to keep the other main star of the Italian Job in his current role. The player testimony didn't hurt his cause, but does anyone take them seriously ? If you're in the team, you love the manager. If not...
There was the daunting financial cost of cutting him free. The lack of an outstanding ready-made replacement, though soundings were surely made. Mick McCarthy would have been a logical choice in the circumstances. Harry Redknapp, in my view, is a brilliant manager of struggling sides but not everyone agrees, maybe even in the FAI, and he does have an image problem for some.
Spain, Germany, even Italy are setting a standard we may never reach but it is unacceptable not to try, simply because the manager may feel the players are not good enough.
Whether a 73-year-old Italian can change his ways and now show that he cares, really cares, is the big question. We should read nothing into a 4-1 win in the Faroes, probably the concluding factor in keeping Trap in work. That result is entirely beside the point. Weigh it alongside the other results if you wish; the Euros; Kazahkstan, and you will see that. He has always said "judge me on the results, not the performances", so I will.
In his first qualifying group there were two good results. Italy away, playing for 80 minutes against ten men. And France in the second leg of the play off after a dismal home display. I believe we nearly produced a miracle in Paris because the players actually went against the manager's strictures and took it on themselves to cut free.
Aiden McGeady, our so-called dangerman
Then turn to the last qualifying group. In my view there was not one single impressive performance, or result. We only finished second because, inexplicably, Slovakia lost 0-4 at home to Armenia on the worst night of Martin Skrtl's career. Then we drew Estonia, the worst team ever to make it to a play-off.
The summer proved, even to those who did not wish to see, that in international terms, we have been playing like a pub side, while the rest of the game has moved on. Spain, Germany, even Italy are setting a standard we may never reach but it is unacceptable not to try, simply because the manager may feel the players are not good enough. Playing in a narrow 4-4-2 with no threat from full back, no guile or adventure from the middle of midfield and wingers who are the teams only threat is somehow a "solid" system.
It's solid if your only objective is to keep giving the ball away. And that's what we do.
So will Trap now change? Will he do what the FAI say they told him to do, which, is, go and work hard for the money, don't insult us anymore? Will he see that so many of the younger players he has failed to integrate, or just treated abominably, can provide a reason to hope?
You know the names; Foley, Coleman, Clark, Wilson, Fahey, a clever player asked to do a 1970s hatchet job on Ozil last week (it’s 2012 and it doesn't work), Gibson, McCarthy, Long. They may not be truly top drawer but they are credible young players, open to improvement and desperate to do well in international terms.
Playing three in the middle is one thing, actually knowing HOW to play that way is another. He didn't against Germany, did he?
While most of them were unfairly held back, the likes of McShane, Ward, Whelan, Green, Cox and Keogh have been indulged. None will ever be credible international footballers, much though I applaud their undoubted commitment.
And one more reason not to take Tuesday seriously. Aiden McGeady had a good night. What about the Germany game ? And all the other big games? He has more than 50 caps, two goals, little idea what to do without the ball and under this manager has become the so-called main danger. He does have a part to play but not in a rigid, stale, predictable, 4-4-2.
Now we'll find out whether this manager is really prepared to change. I don't think he really knows how to. Playing three in the middle is one thing, actually knowing HOW to play that way is another. He didn't against Germany, did he? And will he change the way our back four just drop off and concede space at the first sign of trouble? I doubt that too. And that's all the invitation good teams need.
A lot has to change before Sweden comes round. I am not hopeful.
And Mr Delaney, you may have made a mistake this week but if you do have any influence at UEFA, please do something that will be of lasting good to football. After the despicable conduct of their Under 21s and supporters this week, it is time that Serbia, so often culprits, were told enough is enough, the game will now send out a proper message to the racists. Serbia should be banned from international football. They have had enough chances to change.
But as we will probably find out, change is not something that some people in football will ever really do.