Who Will Succeed Stephen Kenny As Next Ireland Manager?
It is coming up on four months since Stephen Kenny’s reign as Republic of Ireland men’s national team manager came to an end and with speculation intensifying on an almost daily basis, betting sites are taking a great interest in who will eventually take over from the former Dundalk boss.
Following a sorely underwhelming UEFA Euro 2024 qualifying campaign - that saw Ireland suffering home and away defeats at the hands of France, Netherlands and Greece - the FAI decided not to offer a new deal to the aforementioned Kenny.
Despite enjoying great success on the domestic front, the 52-year-old Tallaght man struggled to deliver consistent results during his time at the helm and finished with just 11 wins from 40 games - only six of which were in competitive fixtures.
Given the side have now dropped down to 62 in the FIFA World Rankings (just eight places above their lowest-ever placing from 10 years ago), it can’t be underestimated how important it is for the FAI to appoint the right man to bring Ireland forward into the future.
This might go some way towards explaining why the process behind finding a replacement for Kenny has been so protracted, though frustration is growing about how long it is taking for white smoke to emerge from FAI HQ.
In an exclusive interview with Gambling.com, former Ireland defender Phil Babb said: "Shambles and FAI, how long have we got? Look, it’s been difficult, it was an experiment for me that didn’t work.
"I scratched my head when I saw the naming of his (Stephen Kenny’s) appointment while Mick was still in tenure of the job, it was strange.
"The recruitment process you should have someone lined up well ahead of this. The short list should be made, and it seems like it’s being assembled on the fly at the moment."
O'Shea Attracting Significant Support
John O'Shea is a retired Irish professional footballer renowned for his versatility and long-standing career in the sport.
Born on April 30, 1981, in Waterford, Ireland, O'Shea began his professional journey with Manchester United, where he spent over a decade and won numerous domestic and international titles, including multiple Premier League championships and the UEFA Champions League in 2008.
Beyond his club achievements, O'Shea was a stalwart for the Irish national team, earning over 100 caps and representing his country in multiple UEFA European Championships and FIFA World Cups.
After retiring from professional football in 2019, O'Shea decided to head down the football managerial route. He previously managed Reading and Stoke City, but he now manages Championship side Birmingham City, who are just below mid-table and well clear of the danger zone.
The Waterford man also had a part to play on the International management side of things. He was the assistant manager of Ireland's U21 side from 2020 to 2023, and he was also the assistant manger of the senior Irish team prior to signing for Birmingham City last year.
His odds for the role have been cut drastically recently, having been available at 40/1, he now trades at 6/4.
Carsley Still In The Running Despite Some Doubts
Long seen as the bookies’ favourite - and the ideal choice of the FAI - it appeared to be an absolute certainty just a couple of weeks ago that Lee Carsley was going to be stepping into the Irish hotseat.
This hasn’t materialised to date, however, with rumours circulating that the FAI are unwilling to make the leap to pay him what he wants.
Babb gave his thoughts on the situation: "I think he would (accept the Ireland job if offered suitable financial terms). Only because, what is his pathway with the English FA?
"Is he going to progress to become the next England manager when Gareth moves on? I can’t see that happening.
Currently employed by the English FA as their Under 21 boss (and highly-regarded by many as a result of winning the European Championship with the side), Carsley possesses the kind of coaching profile that the FAI believes is badly needed at this point in time.
"I mean Lee Carsley is doing a terrific job with the England Under 21’s, and for me, he would be a great candidate" Babb declared.
He went on to add: "I’ve watched him coaching and what he’s doing over there - he’s a very progressive young manager, very clever, and obviously has the tricolour close to his heart."
Although he was born and raised in Birmingham, the former Everton midfielder qualified for the Republic of Ireland courtesy of his grandmother being from Dunmanway in Cork.
He went on to accumulate 40 senior caps for the Boys In Green, including a brief appearance against Saudi Arabia at the 2002 World Cup.
While he is no longer the favoured candidate amongst the best betting apps on the market, he remains a viable contender at 2/1 with bet365.
Lennon Also In Contention, Despite Suggestions The FAI Are Looking Elsewhere
Even though the Irish Daily Mirror have suggested that he was told by the FAI that his application for the job has been unsuccessful, Neil Lennon is still listed at 3/1 with football betting sites.
A former Northern Ireland international who won 10 trophies across two spells as manager of Celtic, Lennon has made no secret of his interest in the job.
He has been working regularly as a TV pundit since being sacked by Cypriot First Division outfit Omonia in October 2022 and has spoken about the vacant role during a series of recent appearances on Premier Sports.
The Armagh native unquestionably has some plus points on his CV but, in a similar vein to Coleman, some of his recent managerial output makes him a hard sell for the majority of Irish supporters.
Yet, as long as the job remains up for grabs, Lennon’s name will continue to be linked to it.
Coleman On The Drift For The Ireland Job
Three names in particular have been heavily linked to the job in recent weeks and one of this select group suddenly found himself catapulted near the top of the bookies’ shortlist over the weekend.
After previously being rated as a 25/1 outsider for the role, Chris Coleman is now available at 6/1 with betting apps to be the next Republic of Ireland supremo.
This is in the wake of reports on Sunday that the ex-Crystal Palace and Fulham defender had met with the FAI’s headhunting team of Marc Canham, Jonathan Hill and Packie Bonner about the role.
While his track record as a club manager is mixed to say the least, he did steer Wales to the semi-final of Euro 2016 after taking on the job in the aftermath of Gary Speed’s sad passing a little over four years earlier.
Although he came up short in his bid to get his native land into the 2018 World Cup, his time at the Welsh helm is still remembered positively and this could work in his favour when it comes to the Ireland post.
He also has a strong family connection to the country as his father Paddy originally hailed from East Wall in Dublin. Additionally, current AFC Wimbledon attacker Ronan Curtis (who has picked up seven Ireland senior caps to date) is Coleman’s godson.
The lukewarm reaction to the news that he is now seen as a genuine contender for the job suggests that his appointment wouldn’t be met with universal approval, but Coleman is leading the field for the time being.
Poyet And Hughton Amongst The Long Shots For Irish Post
Outside of the above mentioned triumvirate, Gus Poyet is the best of the outside options at 18/1. He is still at the helm of Greece - and has a Euro 2024 play-off to look forward to - but did state after his side's win at the Aviva Stadium last year that managing Ireland is something that he would see as a privilege.
Yet he did clarify those comments to an extent during a recent visit to these shores for a promotional gig and also said the time isn’t right for him to take on the Ireland job.
In what was once regarded as a prestigious job not too long ago, options seem few and far between for the FAI, given the current climate.
We gathered Babb's thoughts on the current state of affairs: "As a football association, we should have the right infrastructure, the right people and decision makers in place.
"I think the way we stagnated as a footballing nation, certainly with the national team, there should have been things in place a long time ago."
Poyet started out on his managerial journey with Brighton & Hove Albion and another former supremo of the East Sussex club is just behind him in the betting stakes for the Republic of Ireland post.
A veteran of 53 Irish caps from 1979 to 1991, Chris Hughton guided Brighton to Premier League promotion in 2017 - seven years after doing the same with Newcastle United.
He also worked as a Republic of Ireland assistant manager under Brian Kerr in the past and most recently was in charge of Ghana at the Africa Cup of Nations.
However, that latter role ended in disappointment and he also had a forgettable stint in charge of Nottingham Forest in the English Championship.
This, combined with the assertion of his ex-coaching partner Kerr that he wouldn’t want to jump straight back into management soon after being relieved of his Ghanaian duties, explains why he is only rated at 28/1 for the Ireland job.
Elsewhere in the betting market, former Ireland coach Anthony Barry (who is currently working with both Portugal and Bayern Munich) is regarded as a 33/1 rank outsider with new betting sites.
Behind the Liverpudlian, there are a host of contenders listed at 40/1 - including former international stars like Roy Keane, Robbie Keane and Damien Duff.
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