Giovanni Trapattoni has been given a vote of confidence from his employers at the Football Association of Ireland to continue as the manager of the national team, despite the dreadful run of recent performances and the crisis of confidence that was precipitated by last Friday's 6-1 home defeat against Germany.
Trapattoni's side held their nerve to record a 4-1 win over the Faroe Islands in Torshavn on Tuesday which, after the fortuitous 2-1 away win against Kazakhstan in their opening World Cup qualification tie, made for a positive picture, at least on paper, in terms of the Group C table.
There had been anxiety about Trapattoni's future since the team's dismal performance at the Euro 2012 finals in the summer, when they lost all three of their group ties. Influential figures at the FAI have questioned whether the Italian remained the right man for the job, while the silence from John Delaney, the FAI chief executive, when he was asked in Torshavn if he could offer reassurance to Trapattoni, felt ominous.
Trapattoni flew to Milan on Wednesday morning, rather than return to Dublin the previous night with the squad, and cancelled his usual post-match debrief with the media. He said that he had to be in Italy for family reasons, after his elderly sister was admitted to hospital. He then had to wait to learn whether he was to be retained for the home friendly against Greece on 14 November and the remainder of the campaign. After another Dublin friendly, against Poland on 6 February, Ireland face the vital qualification double-header against Sweden (away) and Austria (home) in late March.
But when the news came through it was positive for Trapattoni, even if he surely has cause for complaint about how the FAI have handled the events of recent days. The governing body's board met on Wednesday evening and they released a statement that sought to acknowledge the concerns of a significant section of the fans. But the overriding message was one of support for Trapattoni.
"Following today's discussions, the board, while disappointed like everyone with the poor result and performance against Germany and understanding the frustration of some of our supporters, believes the current position in the group means that qualification for Brazil in 2014 remains a realistic and achievable prospect and reaffirmed that Giovanni Trapattoni is to remain in charge of the national team.
"The board recognises the depth of feeling surrounding the team, the performances, the results and the manager, reflecting the passion which everyone in Irish football has for the game, and will continue to work closely with the manager."
The subject of Trapattoni's future became an issue after Euro 2012 and it has been debated ever more hotly in the light of the inauspicious start to the World Cup campaign.
Ireland needed late goals to sneak to the victory over Kazakhstan in September while the Germany loss was the heaviest on home soil in Irish football history. The win over the Faroes was commendable given the pressure on Trapattoni and the players, although it hardly felt like cause for celebration.
Trapattoni has maintained his dignity in public, making plain that he wanted to continue in the job, even if he has found the questions about his capability galling. He has always cited his results as the justification for his methods, reminding his audience after the Germany defeat about the narrow failure to qualify for the 2010 World Cup, following the controversial play-off defeat at the hand of Thierry Henry and France, and the successful passage to Euro 2012.
Even now, with six points from the available nine and having lost only to the group's best team, he believes that his squad is on target for Brazil 2014.
The story has come to pit old-school managerial pragmatism against the supporters' yearning for more entertaining football. "We no lose" has been one of Trapattoni's mantras. But many Ireland supporters want to see the team go all-out for the win, especially against the bigger nations. It is a blight on Trapattoni's record that his Ireland side has never beaten higher-ranked opposition in a competitive fixture.
Some fans have not been deceived by the wins over Kazakhstan and the Faroes. They see a squad in decline which, in five turbulent months, has even been stripped of its resilience, as was confirmed by the scale of the capitulation against Germany. They question Trapattoni's man-management, after the way that he has alienated a clutch of players and they are convinced that a change is needed.
The FAI, though, have begged to differ. Trapattoni's €1.3m-a-year contract – 50% of which is paid by the businessman Denis O'Brien – will expire when Ireland's World Cup campaign ends, be that in October of next year when the team plays their final qualifier against Kazakhstan at home, or after their exit from the finals in Brazil the following summer. Trapattoni's adventure is not over yet.