Marco Tardelli has insisted Giovanni Trapattoni would happily extend his stay as Ireland boss if given the opportunity.
The 74-year-old Italian woke on Sunday morning to newspaper headlines speculating over his successor - former Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill is the bookmakers' favourite - in the wake of Friday night's World Cup qualifier defeat by Sweden, which left Ireland's hopes of making it to Brazil next summer hanging by a thread.
Trapattoni's current deal is due to expire at the end of the campaign and after a turbulent 11 months, there is little appetite to retain the services of a man whose methods and dwindling results have attracted vociferous criticism.
However, assistant manager Tardelli launched a staunch defence of a man who claimed in the aftermath of Friday night's game that he and his coaches had done a "very, very great job".
He said: "One year ago, the people who are criticising Giovanni now were very happy with Giovanni.
"Football is so. We haven't a problem because we understand that our job has been very strong. For me, it is very positive."
Tardelli is hugely protective of a manager under whom he played at Juventus and often attends Trapattoni's post-match press conferences, frequently interjecting over questions to which he objects.
Asked if the tide of criticism which has engulfed his mentor in the last 48 hours angered him, he replied: "I played for many years and I have been a coach for many years and for me, everything now is nothing because I know our job, I know your job.
"You need to ask very hard questions for the newspapers and for the TV. It's normal, it's life. No problem.
"We came here nearly six years ago and now, we feel very well also for another two years.