Following the departure of Giovanni Trapattoni, we look at some of the favourites for the vacant Republic of Ireland manager’s job.
Legendary Italian coach Trapattoni was sacked following a 1-0 defeat in Austria which, given the Irish also lost to Sweden this international break, left them all-but out of the reckoning to qualify for the World Cup finals in Brazil.
‘Trap’s’ record was good enough given limited resources, but the Irish have decided to go for new blood, with a homegrown coach widely expected to be the solution.
So who are the bookmakers tipping to be the next Ireland coach? (all odds from William Hill)
Martin O'Neill (1/2)
The former Celtic, Aston Villa and Leicester boss has been out of work since leaving Sunderland. A fine player in his time – he won the European Cup with Nottingham Forest – O’Neill is a former Northern Ireland international midfielder of Catholic extraction and with easily the best managerial record of any active Irish coach. His teams favour a direct, attacking style of play, and he is renowned as one of the best motivators in the game. His abilities are suited to the international game and he would be popular with both fans and players, many of whom have worked under him at club level. Odds on O'Neill have shortened from evens, with the Irish FA admitting the three leading contenders here are on their shortlist.
Mick McCarthy (7/1)
The regard in which O’Neill is held is reflected in the odds on others, with McCarthy second favourite at 1/7. The English-born former Ireland defender has, of course, managed his country before, taking them to a World Cup that saw the infamous fall-out with Roy Keane. Was sacked by Wolves, many feel prematurely, as they were still in the Premier League at the time. A season and a half later, they are now in League One. An old-fashioned man’s-manager, he understands the mentality of the players, although he is tactically limited and his teams do not always play the most eye-catching style.
Brian McDermott (7/1)
The Leeds boss is not strictly speaking Irish, having been born and raised in the London suburbs, even turning out once for England’s U18 team. But his parents are from the Emerald Isle and he has gone on record as saying he would love to manage the land of his forefathers. McDermott worked wonders with Reading before his bizarre sacking midway through last season’s Premier League campaign. He is finding things harder at Leeds, but is an intelligent, progressive coach who would represent a long-term move for the Irish. His odds have shortened significantly since he was listed as a leading candidate, although he tried to distance himself from the vacancy by hinting he was not ready for the role.
Roy Keane (14/1)
Some might call this a fanciful suggestion given his outspoken attacks on his country’s FA in the past, but Keane would be popular with many fans and the media on account of his forthright style. One of the greatest players to ever don the green jersey, ‘Keano’ has not hit those heights as a manager with Sunderland and Ipswich, arguably because the standards he sets himself are unattainable for most of his charges. His abrasive style of man-management is fairly black-and-white: a player either responds well, or loses confidence. After a while in charge, it is usually the latter. Keane would probably be a risk, but he would definitely be entertaining.
Chris Hughton (25/1)
The Norwich boss was also an Ireland international, despite having been born in London, and Hughton arguably represents the second-best respected Irish coach at the moment. His best work comes on the training ground though, particularly with young players, and he may not be seen as the motivator needed for the national team. The quiet and unassuming Hughton has also done well with Norwich and may not see international football as ideally suited to his strengths. And anyway, he is building a potentially excellent team at Carrow Road and may want to stick with that for now, a belief that appears to have been represented in the odds, which have lengthened in the past 24 hours.
Other candidates: Liam Brady (25/1), Owen Coyle (25/1) Stuart Pearce (33/1), Alex McLeish (33/1)
Who do you think should be Ireland's next boss? Have your say below!