When billionaire businessman Dennis O’Brien agreed to subsidise Giovanni Trapattoni’s wages to allow Italian to become the Republic of Ireland manager back in 2008 certain glory was just over the horizon. Qualification to major tournaments would become a mere formality as the experienced and highly successful football sage would fix the damage done by Steve Staunton and Brian Kerr.
Sadly it hasn’t worked out that way. A near miss in qualification for the 2010 World Cup was followed by success in making it to Euro 2012 . Once there we saw some the worst Ireland displays in a major tournament as they lost all three group games with a record aggregate of -8 goals. Trappatoni never really recovered and his failure to even get close to qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil resulted in his dismissal.
So who is next? Let’s take a look at where the money is going.
1. Martin O’Neill
80% of the money we’ve taken on this market has been on the former Celtic boss. The personable Northern Ireland man is a strong favourite to get the job. He has enjoyed major success getting the most out of lesser players in the past at Leicester an Celtic. He’s available, looking to get back in to management and unlikely to cost a fortune. Seen as a man who could mend many of the broken relationships caused by Trapattoni’s inflexible attitude. However he failed to recreate his earlier career successes at Sunderland and Aston Villa.
2. Brian McDermott
The next most popular choice in the betting with about 8% of the money. This is largely due to his habit of attending Ireland home games as well as explicitly saying he wants to manage the Republic of Ireland one day. He has enjoyed some success in his managerial career but lasted less than one season at the top level before being sacked by Reading in March of last season. Unlikely to be a popular choice amongst fans due to his lack of top level experience. Having just signed a contract with Leeds he is claiming to be “100% committed” to the club at this point in his career.
3. Mick McCarthy
Ah Big Mick. We were happy to see him leave when he did but missed him badly quite soon in to Brian Kerr’s stint. And even sooner in to Steve Staunton’s. A classic case of not knowing what you have until it’s gone. The straight talking Yorkshireman led Ireland to the 2002 World Cup and if not for Roy Keane’s temper tantrum in Saipan he could have equalled Jack Charlton’s quarter-final appearance. There’s almost as much on McCarthy as there is on McDermott. He would be a popular enough choice and with Ipswich unlikely to be pushing for promotion this season he may consider it. The FAI are likely to want a new face and if they can avoid paying compensation they will.
4. Roy Keane
It’s hard to generate any real enthusiasm for this one. He may be one of Ireland’s greatest ever players but a top level manager he is not. There were too many stories of fractious relationships with players from his spells at Sunderland and Ipswich to ignore. He also has a testy relationship with the FAI. There’s an undeniable romance to having your greatest player coming back to manage but in reality there are too many negatives to his appointment and it would be a massive shock if he were to get the job.
5. Chris Hughton
Is Chris the most likeable manager in football? A former Ireland international who has proven himself to be an astute tactician and a very capable Premier League manager. The lack of money on him is not a reflection of how well his appointment would be received but rather the realisation that he’s not about to give up his Norwich role. The level of investment in players over the summer makes the Canaries too exciting a project and he will be keen to prove himself even further in the Premier League. Come back to him in five years time.
These markets more than any other are proof that people will back almost anyone. 20 people have bet on Graeme Souness for some unknown reason. There have also been small amounts on Kenny Dalglish, Sven-Goran Eriksson, Jack Charlton, Glenn Hoddle and Brian Kerr. It seems drug use is on the up in the UK and Ireland. Not enough to tempt anyone to back Steve Staunton though. Poor Steve.