TAKING AIM AT DELAY-NEY; Buoyed by Brazil: While a Jovial Stephen Hunt Puts His Relegation Worries at Reading Behind Him as Ireland Trained Yesterday, Temporary Manager Don Givens (Left) Appears to Have the Weight of the World on His Shoulders
Byline: PHILIP QUINN
SENIOR Irish players are on the brink of marching to John Delaneys plushoffice in Abbotstown to seek answers to the relentless riddle that is thesearch for the new national team manager.
Richard Dunne acknowledged last night that such a drastic course of action wasbeing considered following the news that the recruitment of Steve Stauntonssuccessor is going to drag on past St Valentines Day.
Head-hunter Don Givens successful request for more time to gauge the depth ofGiovanni Trapattonis interest may not only have damaged Terry Venablescandidacy but also fuelled the growing sense of mutiny in the Irish squad, withFAI chief executive Delaney the target of their anger and dismay.
Steve Finnan and Andy OBrien, two members of the 2002 World Cup finals squad,have already walked away and Sportsmail understands others, utterly disaffectedat the delay, are queuing up to join them.
Brazil arrive in town tomorrow for a friendly in Croke Park and players whohave turned up will do their duty on Wednesday under caretaker manager Givens.However, no bets are being taken on what will happen after that.
A senior FAI source said: Were not talking fringe players who are unhappy. Itsthe senior, established professionals who are disillusioned. There may not bemany left when the manager comes in.
That could include such mainstays as Dunne, the newly-crowned eircom FAI Playerof the Year, Lee Carsley, Kevin Kilbane and John OShea, while Shay Givenexpressed his discontent in Sports-mail on Saturday.
The players anger is two-fold: first, they were assured by the FAI that a newmanager would be in place long before now; secondly, they were thrilled at theprospect of working with Venables.
On both counts, the players feel the FAI hierarchy has let them down badlyhence Dunnes stern rebuke of Delaney last night.
Givens, chairman of the three-man head-hunting panel, sought an extension lastnight from the FAI board of management in order to formally assess thecandidacy of Salzburg coach Trapattoni, who has emerged from left-field as an11th-hour candidate.
So far, the only contact has been through an interpreter and Givens couldhardly make a recommendation for the managers job to the FAI on the strength ofthat.
Givens feels that he, like cohorts Ray Houghton and Don Howe, needs to measurethe depth of the veteran Italians interest before making a full judgment call.
That puts the ball back in the FAIs court as they may now ask Salzburg forpermission to speak to Trapattoni.
It remains to be seen if the 68-year-old is serious about the job. Last week,he distanced himself from the speculation while his agent said Trapattoni wasangry at the way his name was being bandied about. …