THERE'S one man to blame for Ireland's Eurogeddon. And it's not Robbie Keane, Shay Given or Richard Dunne.
The person who must shoulder responsibility for our footballing embarrassment is Giovanni Trapattoni.
Not since the sinking of the Costa Concordia had a live televised event captivated so many viewers. The millions who watched the calamity of Ireland's 4-0 defeat by Spain were enthralled by the spectacle of Ireland's good-humoured supporters resolutely singing in their darkest sporting hour.
Tragically this magnificent national gesture was instantly devalued by the crass response of our team's petulant manager who shattered the bond of confidence between players and manager when he washed his hands of the defeat and appeared to blame the players.
Announcing he'd ask the players why they got it wrong, Trap was effectively putting his hands up and saying, "Nothing to do with me."
The man who's paid a small fortune to steer the ship claimed he detected fear among the Irish players. So much for loyalty. To the players and the nation that pays his wages.
Yet, in the sanctuary of his dugout, grey-haired Trap appeared frozen, incapable of a positive response. All over Ireland frustrated football fans were shouting, like the official who berated the self-serving Costa Concordia Captain Francesco Schettino, "Get back on board, Trapattoni. Tell us what can be done. What are you coordinating? Get back on board. Is that clear?"
If the supporters were left floundering and furious consider how the players must feel being asked to carry the can for an Italian who threw in the towel and surrendered early.
"It's very difficult to get back into a game once you concede a goal," explained Trapattoni. Not good enough. He exhibited spineless decision-making against Croatia and repeated his error against Spain.
. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, "To collapse to one early goal is a misfortune; to collapse in two games looks like carelessness."
Ireland play Italy tonight. With his reputation under the spotlight more than ever both here, and at home in Italy, Trapattoni is sure to look a bit more involved. A win will be cold comfort. Ireland were the first team to be knocked-out of this tournament. And already many of the players, and former internationals, are asking pertinent questions.
Many query his squad selection, his man management and communication skills, his inflexible tactics and why the Irish team he sent out looked physically and mentally exhausted. These matters demand honest examination, not just a shrug and the suggestion that our players lack talent.
The suspicion is that Trapattoni targeted qualification as the main prize. His players, the supporters and the Irish public expected more.
They hoped to see the trademark battling qualities they'd witnessed under previous managers.
The last thing they wanted to witness was abdication. So they squirmed as the manager told the world his Irish players displayed fear.
There's certainly fear now.
So thanks Gio. It's time you accepted a handsome severance package and went.