Report: FAI consider Carsley, McKenna and Benitez as manager candidates

Report: FAI consider Carsley, McKenna and Benitez as manager candidates

The FAI are reported to be eyeing Lee Carsley, Kieran McKenna and Rafa Benitez as options to replace Stephen Kenny.

A report from The IndependentĀ states that the Football Association of Ireland have drawn up a shortlist of potential successors to current manager Stephen Kenny.

Kenny’s future in the job hangs by a thread after consecutive defeats to France and the Netherlands left his Ireland team with just three points after five games in Group B of European qualifying.

Ireland started their campaign with an encouraging 1-0 defeat to France at the Aviva Stadium, but an away defeat to Greece proved far more damaging to their qualification hopes, understandably leaving a 3-0 home win over Gibraltar as little consolation.

While Kenny could still see out the last three games of the campaign before the expiration of his contract, today’s papers suggest that Irish football’s governing body have already moved onto thinking about who should succeed the former Dundalk boss.

Carsley, McKenna and Benitez linked to Ireland job.

As per Miguel Delaney in the Independent, England under-21 coach Lee Carsley is top of the FAI’s wishlist, but the English FA will “resist any attempt” to secure the ex-Ireland midfielder’s services – with some suggestions that they consider his qualities suitable for the Three Lions senior job.

Carsley is hot property at the moment after leading a talented England 21s side to European Championship glory, but his CV comes with the caveat that he has only ever held interim positions at senior level. The first was with Brentford as far back as 2015 and the most recent was with Birmingham in 2017.

The second name mentioned was Fermanagh’s Kieran McKenna who is currently doing a fine job with Ipswich Town. The former Manchester United first team coach led the Tractor Boys to promotion from League One last season with an attractive style of football and they are now second in the Championship table after five matches.

McKenna Carsley Ireland

The fact that the 37-year-old is on an upward trajectory in English club football would make any decision to switch to the international game at this stage a major surprise.

Benitez comes as a left-field name, especially so as he was only just appointed as Celta Vigo boss on a three-year deal. Even more so than the other two options, the FAI would face the challenge of selling the gig to the ex-Liverpool manager – and that’s before considering his lofty financial demands.

If reports are to be believed, that leaves all three desired options looking unlikely to agree a deal with the FAI, unless there is a change in circumstances.

John Giles backs Kenny to stay on as Ireland manager.

Although there is an inevitability about Kenny’s future at this stage, there is a cohort of fans – and indeed pundits – who would like to see him remain as Ireland manager, comprehending his results as reasonable considering the standard of players at his disposal.

One such pundit is Ireland legend John Giles who told Eamon Dunphy onĀ The Stand that the FAI should “appreciate what he’s done and give him an extension to his contract”.

“Stephen has been in a situation which has been one of the worst situations of any of the managers who have taken over with the players who are at his disposal,” he said.

“I think he’s doing a good job with them. There’s nothing like winning matches for him to get an extension. If the people are still coming to the matches, that’s a big plus for him.

“It means that they like watching the team, and whoever makes the decision to extend his contract, it will be a plus for him in a big way.

“On a personal note, I’d love to see him have an extension to his contract. I think he’s done a good job, he’s a good fella, a good character. He’s made progress with the team with the players he’s had at his disposal.”