Sunday, May 19, 2024

Searching for Ireland’s next National Football team manager –

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After failing to qualify for the 2024 European Championship, Stephen Kenny was relieved of his duties as Republic of Ireland manager. Third place in a group with France, Netherlands, Greece and Gibraltar ensured the Irish would have to watch the tournament from home this summer.

Despite over six months since being held to a 1-1 friendly draw at home by New Zealand to end a miserable 2023, the FAI are yet to make a permanent appointment as Kenny’s successor, with an initial deadline of April already passing.

Since Kenny has left the national team, former Manchester United defender John O’Shea has taken charge on an interim basis. Things got off to a good start with a goalless draw against Belgium, and despite losing 1-0 to Switzerland there were a lot of positives to take from the performance.

O’Shea will remain in charge for the summer friendlies against Hungary and Portugal, but has he got the credentials to take the role on a full-time basis? The defender boasts an impressive playing career in which he won five Premier League titles and the FA Cup, and also has coaching experience at Reading and Stoke City. Working alongside the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson and Dick Advocaat will also help his tactical nous.

There are a number of other potential suitors for the Republic of Ireland job that the top Irish betting sites for punters are interested in seeing take the reins at the Aviva Stadium as the Nations League and qualification for the 2026 World Cup will soon begin. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some other candidates.

Chris Hughton

Kicking things off with the former Republic of Ireland international, Chris Hughton. The current Ghana boss has a decorated CV in management and a proven track record of developing his teams at both club and international level.

Perhaps best known for his ventures at Norwich City and Brighton, where he navigated life in the Premier League for the Canaries and Seagulls with aplomb, the 65-year-old has been in management for over 25 years as well as making 53 appearances as a player for his country before working as an assistant to Brian Kerr throughout his tenure as Ireland boss.

As mentioned, Hughton is currently in charge of the Ghana national team, but after an underwhelming Africa Cup of Nations display that saw them exit the competition after the group stages without a win, there is every chance Hughton would trade the Black Stars job for a more familiar role at home if the position were to be offered.

Steve Bruce

Onto another Premier League stalwart as Steve Bruce is 5/1 to land the Republic of Ireland job despite not having managed since his stint at West Bromwich Albion in 2022. While the former United captain’s run at the Hawthrone’s ended rather unceremoniously, Bruce’s experience could be exactly what Ireland needs to reignite their form.

This would be Bruce’s 13th senior job in management, and while he has only ever worked at club level, he has a knack for combining traditional low-block defending with creative flair, as demonstrated by the attacking players he has produced over the years including getting to Wembley with Hull City and Aston Villa with a team that included Jack Grealish.

Roy Keane

Something of an outsider, it would certainly be an interesting appointment if Roy Keane returned to Ireland as head coach. His infamous falling out with Mick McCarthy at the 2002 World Cup has been long forgotten and the experienced midfielder has actually worked in the international set up before alongside Martin O’Neil.

Keane has several years of managerial experience but hasn’t had a role since leaving Ipswich Town in 2011. Earlier in the year he was amongst the favourites for the Sunderland job but nothing materialised in terms of a return to the Stadium of Light. Now it looks as if his best chances of returning to management are navigating his country through their Nations League campaign, trading the pundits microphone for press conferences.

Overall, whoever gets the Ireland job knows it will come with a lot of challenges. The squad is rather light but with some exciting young players like Adam Idah of Celtic and Evan Ferguson, who enjoyed his breakout year with Brighton, there is enough to fire the Irish to some positive results in search of a first tournament since Euro 2016.

There are some big games coming up, none more important than the clash against England on September 1st, which could well be the first time a new manager gets a taste of what the job entails. Only time will tell who will be in the dugout when the game kicks off.

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