Playing in March apparently angered Jack Charlton while Steve Staunton thought it meant we performed better. The next few days could prove to be defining moments for Giovanni Trapattoni that determine if we should clear our calendars next summer.
A minimum of four points from Ireland’s two fixtures would put the Boys in Green on course for the play-off spot. Anything less will see Trapattoni pushed closer to the exit door.
A win in Stockholm would see Ireland leap-frog Sweden into second place in Group C. Germany are away in Astana tonight and welcome the return visit of Kazakhstan on Tuesday as Ireland entertain Austria in Dublin. Sweden are not in action next week meaning the Boys in Green could open up a psychological lead with two positive results.
Temperatures in Stockholm could be as low as -10 when the game kicks off at the Friends Arena. Despite this, Trap wanted the roof open but he looks to have lost out to the hosts on that request.
Two of his predecessors in the Irish hot-seat had differing views on playing games in March. Jack Charlton wasn’t a fan of this time of year, no doubt influenced by Ireland’s notoriously rubbish weather.
Equally, in the days before modern pitch technology, Lansdowne Road in the aftermath of a Five Nations’ tournament resembled a war-zone but Jack was reportedly happy to keep it that way for visitors to Dublin.This week, John Delaney expressed some concerns about the state of the Aviva Stadium turf ahead of Austria’s arrival.
While Giovanni Trapattoni is known for his creative use of the English language, and the Italian one for that matter, it was Steve Staunton who came up with one of Irish football’s most bizarre quotes.
As Ireland lumbered from one embarrassment to another, a last minute away win over mighty San Marino prompted the Irish manager to say:
“We always play well in March”
Actually, the Republic does boast a decent March record. From 40 internationals played in the month, we’ve won 22, drawn seven and lost just eleven.
The Swedes have made much of Ireland’s impressive away record under Trapattoni – We’ve not lost a competitive game on our travels. Our miserly defence in qualifying for Euro 2012 has since collapsed and with Richard Dunne missing, our inexperienced back four, save for John O’Shea, will need to grow up fast if we are to restore the team’s reputation for being hard to beat.
There are fewer fans in Stockholm this week while the Aviva Stadium is unlikely to be full on Tuesday. A result in Sweden however could put the Green Army on the march again.