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Mixed bag of options in next Ireland manager betting

by Aidan Elder | October 16, 2012

By Aidan Elder | Chief sports writer


COUNT ON ME: Trapattoni explains how many million it’ll take for him to quit (pic: Inpho)

Trapattoni out.
He’s old-fashioned.
He’s inexplicably stubborn.
He smells a bit of wee.

The pressure is mounting in Giovanni Trapattoni since Ireland’s humbling at the hands of Germany. That pressure has largely been expressed via the Irish press and a nation’s angry Facebook status updates – both media the Irish manager gives about as much attention to as a creative central midfielder.

The reasons are abundant, if not always particularly relevant. Whatever your particular criticisms of the manager, the bottom line is Ireland are horrible to watch. That’s fine whilst the team were squeaking their way to Euro 2012, but when the jamminess dries up, it’s time for white-haired heads to roll.

Only a resounding win over the Faroe Islands is likely to buy the Italian a stay of execution. If Trapattoni is gently nudged into retirement, the question is ‘who could do a better job than veteran Italian?’ Are any of the potential successors likely to get more out of this crop of players? The Paddy Power Blog presents the case for and against some of the leading contenders.

Mick McCarthy – 2/1 Fav

Mick McCarthy

TAKE THE MICK: An older, wiser and grumpier McCarthy is favourite to be next Ireland boss (pic: Inpho)

Why he’d do a better job
He’s a safe pair of rather limited hands. He has the right skills to do a decent, if unspectacular, job. He’ll organise the defence, use his midfield for more attack-minded purposes and provide just enough of the ‘inspirational leader’ to motivate the squad. His work with Wolves never got the credit it deserved and he’s a better manager from his first stint in charge of his country.

Why he wouldn’t
McCarthy is a limited manager and crucially is also no stranger to being pigheadedly stubborn. Throughout his time with Wolves, he got narky with the media on a regular basis. But he did it in an amusing northern way rather than an arrogant Italian way and that’s much more agreeable apparently.

If – has been widely suggested – Trapattoni has lost the dressing room, Mick isn’t necessarily the man to unite it. He won’t shy away from conflict and although it won’t always end in the Armageddon of hissy-fits we saw with his run-in with Roy Keane in 2002, it could cause problems. There were whispers of revolt towards the end of his time at Molinuex and his gruff northerness has the potential to put a few heavily pampered noses out of joint.

Chris Hughton – 7/1

Chris Hughton

STRANGE CARRY ON: Hughton’s famous Kenneth Williams impression made him a hit in the Ireland camp

Why he’d do a better job
Ask anyone in involved in professional football what they think of Chris Hughton and you’ll generally get one of two responses. The first will be ‘who?’ and the second will be something like ‘nice guy’. The 53 times capped international has earned a reputation for being incredibly pleasant and being popular with his players. If the Ireland squad was to get behind him and believe in his ideas, there’s enough talent within the ranks to be a decent team.

Why he wouldn’t
Hughton has been around coaching set-ups for years, but he’s only recently popped his cherry as a permanent manager in his own right. His achievements thus far have been good, but he will need to turn things around at Norwich for his reputation as a managerial hot property to be galvanised beyond doubt.

If he was to be faced with the task of leading an international team in the near future, you’d fear he’d be exposed as naïve against more savvy technicians. With a few more seasons of experience under his belt, Hughton us a shoe-in for the job at some point in the future, but now is probably too soon.

Owen Coyle – 8/1

Owen Coyle

THIS MORTAL COYLE: After promising starts, Coyle’s work has tended to peter out (pic: Inpho)

Why he’d do a better job
Again, with limited resources and limited players, Coyle has prospered in a setting at club level comparable what will be expected of him with Ireland. He got Burnley promoted and even had fans dreaming of survival until they realised the season goes long past September. His time in charge of Bolton is altogether harder to assess, but you could make a case that it was a success if you’re so inclined.

Why he wouldn’t
Coyle seems to burn brightly to begin with, take his team to a new level and then plateau rather spectacularly. The exception would be his successful time in charge of St Johnstone, but as it was in Scotland is considered the managerial equivalent of learning to tie your shoelaces. He’s clearly got some talent as a manager, just maybe not enough to turn Ireland into a good team.

Martin O’Neill – 10/1

Martin O'Neill

A S-MART MOVE? O’Neill is a strong contender, but would he walk away from a Premier League job? (pic: Inpho)

Why he’d do a better job
He’s a great manager. And that’s probably the main reason he wouldn’t take the job. His motivational skills and ability to jump into the air are renowned and he would be expected to do well, even allowing for the perceived dearth of world class talent. He’s got a record turning average players into effective ones. He even turned Steve Guppy into an England international. At that rate of improvement, we can expect Paul McShane to get his hands on the Ballon d’Or in the next few years.

Why he wouldn’t
O’Neill does have a history of rather sudden and grumpy exits from various jobs. His managerial acumen isn’t in question, but his ability to put up with the politics and personalities of the FAI is. Plus, there are those who point to the fact he hasn’t achieved much since leaving Celtic. He failed to elevate Aston Villa to the Champions League places despite strong financial backing and his start to his Sunderland career has been solid rather than sensational.

Liam Brady – 14/1 (for some reason)

Liam Brady

CHIPPING IN: Brady’s experience working within the FAI might make him a contender for the job. *SHUDDER*

Why he’d do a better job
Ummm … would he? I’m only talking about him because he’s sixth in the betting. Maybe his position in the betting has more to do with ‘friends in high places’ because his own time as a manager wouldn’t inspire a whole lot of confidence. But if – and that is rather a large if – he picked up some of Arsene Wenger’s magic whilst in charge of Arsenal’s various youth teams he could be a better prospect at the helm now than he was back in the mid 90s.

Why he wouldn’t
He’s just not a good manager. Even the clutching at straws that is pointing the vague benefit of working in close proximity to Wenger is somewhat negated by the questionable opinions he has expressed as a pundit for RTE. Working in close proximity to Le Professeur is a great opportunity to learn some tricks of the trade, but you’d suspect Chippy hasn’t learned enough to warrant getting the Ireland job.

Brian McDermott – 14/1

Brian McDermott

FAMILY PLANNING: McDermott seems to have his eyes set on the Ireland job for some time (pic: Inpho)

Why he’d do a better job
Having done well with limited players and resources at his disposal, McDermott has basically experienced the environment he’ll face as an international manager. He turned Reading into a team more impressive than the sum of their parts and the Ireland job is pretty much the same. His more modern approach has got results whilst playing an expansive brand of football, all from a bunch of players who don’t seem to be highly rated elsewhere. His sustained attempts to build a network of Irish footballing kingpins is another reason to take his claims seriously.

Why he wouldn’t
There’s no doubting his strong family connections to Ireland and the desire to manage the nation of his heritage, but if Irish relations were enough to get you the job, then Jimmy Carr would be getting a mention as a potential boss. McDermott has done well with Reading, but not to the point where you can be confident it’s more than a flash in the pan. He may yet prove he’s the real deal, but until he does more at club level, he’ll remain as questionable as Carr’s tax affairs.

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