Republic of Ireland fans will have you believe that whomever becomes their next football manager is doomed, destined to be hamstrung by the incompetency of FAI Chief Executive John Delaney.
It’s a tough job, no doubt, but someone’s gotta do it.
The early favourites are Dundalk mastermind Stephen Kenny and old boy Mick McCarthy, who has been tipped for a return to the role he vacated in 2002.
Beyond the two frontrunners, it’s anyone’s guess, but there are some interesting names emerging in the betting markets, some of which make more sense than others. Here’s five Gambling.com can see working.
How many former international managers can you name that boast a 100% win record for their country? Big Sam can, and you better believe he’ll one day boast about that fact, once he’s gotten over the embarrassing manner of his early England exit.
In all seriousness though, Allardyce has an astute ability to get the best out of limited players, which has turned him into the go-to man for any Premier League club who find themselves in relegation form.
As pointed out in Michael Cox’s brilliant debut book The Mixer, Allardyce is actually a very intelligent tactician and has inspired innovation in the Premier League. He could well be the right man to implement the sort of giant-killing game-plan the Irish have been missing.
Yes, I’ve gone there. Granted, any potential move for Northern Ireland’s manager may cause more unrest than the introduction of a hard border after Brexit, but the FAI’s job now is to find the right man for the job and Michael O’Neill certainly fits the bill.
In fact, Michael O’Neill has shown up his namesake Martin over the past couple of years, making better use of his limited resources and installing an ethos in Northern Ireland’s play, the like of which was severely lacking in the latter stages of Martin O’Neill’s five-year reign with the Republic.
With the two nations, the fans and indeed both boards enjoying a more civilised relationship in recent years, politics are likely to prevent this conversation ever getting off the ground. But there wouldn’t be too many complaints from Republic fans should the FAI have the guts to ask.
On the back of a new documentary named Kerr's Kids – Irish Football’s Golden Generation, nostalgia is rife in Irish football circles right now. The feature length film looks back on the success of Ireland’s youth teams of the late 1990s, managed by Brian Kerr.
Kerr guided Ireland’s Under-18s to the semi-finals of the 1997 World Youth Championships, and the same group of players won the European Championships a year later, while there was also major tournament success for Kerr’s Under-16s side of that era.
It all amounted to Kerr being appointed the Republic’s senior manager in 2003, by which stage his youngers had become household names such as Robbie Keane, Damien Duff and John O’Shea, but his failure to qualify for a major tournament saw the FAI replace him after less than three years.
There has always been a sense that Kerr was hard done by in the senior role, but Kerr’s Kids serves as a timely reminder of all he achieved for Irish football. Would the FAI give him another chance? Would he even want to work with them again? It’s difficult to fathom, but the power of film can aid public support.
In the FAI’s ideal world, managing the Republic of Ireland would be more appealing and more lucrative than managing a mid-table Premier League team. They were reminded it’s not when Martin O’Neill flirted with Stoke City last season, albeit to no avail.
Former Ireland international Chris Hughton, a fantastic defender in his day, has done a stellar job in restoring Brighton as a top tier English club, achieving promotion from the Championship and then staying up in their first year back.
They seem strong enough to survive this season too as Hughton looks capable of ensuring their Premier League status for years to come. So why would he leave now? He probably won’t, which is why he’s a long shot, but he has been winning many Twitter polls among fans who see him as the best man for the job.
Coleman’s stock has fallen considerably since he resigned from Wales, but it’s still only 12 months after he left his country in a much better position than he found them in, leaving Ryan Giggs with a perfect platform from which to build.
The 48-year-old made a poor decision to join Sunderland, who were already sinking like a stone before he naively vowed to save them, within days of leaving Wales. It lasted five months as Coleman didn’t even survive until the end of the season and the Black Cats were relegated to League One.
Since then, he’s been picking up a packet in the Chinese Super League, managing Hebei China Fortune, but as a relatively young manager, surely there’s a bigger burning ambition within Coleman?
At Ireland he wouldn’t have anything like a superstar in the Gareth Bale mould, but there was much more to his Wales tenure than one (often injured) world class player.Odds are subject to change
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