Close sidebar

With the Irish national team continuing to perform at a level reminiscent of the Steve Staunton era, Giovanni Trapattoni’s tenure looks like it could be nearing an end.

Martin O’ Neill has been touted as a possible replacement, following his sacking as Sunderland manager on Saturday, but would he be the people’s choice?

The following is a list of five (and a half) possible replacements for Signor Trapattoni.

1. Martin O’ Neill

Despite being sacked as Sunderland manager, O’ Neill’s managerial career is synonymous with success. Successive promotions at Wycombe Wanderers, three League Cup Finals with Leicester, three SPL titles and four cups with Celtic and a high level of consistency at Aston Villa. There is no doubting O’ Neill’s credentials.

However, his stint at Sunderland has blotted his record, after O’ Neill finished with a win ratio of just 29%. The step-up to international football seems a natural progression for older managers, but it is unclear if O’ Neill would be suited to the less intense day-to-day work of national team manager.

The critics will say that O’ Neill is managing in an era where his methods have become outdated, and that flapping up and down on the sideline is not a guarantee of success.

2. Chris Hughton

Current Norwich City boss Chris Hughton is many people’s choice for the Irish job. Since making the step-up from assistant to manager, Hughton has flourished.

Following a successful stint as Newcastle caretaker manager, Hughton was offered a permanent deal. He led the Toon Army back to the Premiership at the first attempt in 2010, but was harshly (understatement) sacked by the clueless Newcastle board the following December, despite the club sitting comfortably in the Premiership. It was a ridiculous decision and one that caused outrage throughout football.

Hughton took charge of recently relegated Birmingham City next and steered them to the play-offs. A relatively successful European campaign nearly saw the Blues nearly qualify from their Europa League group.

Hughton is the current manager of Norwich City, home to Anthony Pilkington and flavour of the month Wes ‘Hot-Lips’ Hoolahan. The Canaries have had a relatively successful season thus far and sit in 14th place in the Premier League.

Working with the FAI is something that Hughton has already experienced and that could sway any decision in his favour. The former Ireland international was assistant to Brian Kerr during his reign from 2003-05.

Hughton’s main assets are his discipline and man-management. With a number of Irish players picking up mystery ‘injuries’ before low-profile friendlies, it’s clear this would not be the case with Hughton. He would have no problem wielding the axe.

Man-management is undoubtedly Giovanni Trapattoni’s biggest fault. There have been a number of high-profile incidents where Trapattoni has treated his players badly in the public limelight. This would not be the case with Hughton at the helm and his instalment as manager could see a return to the fold for a number of exiled players.

3. Brian McDermott

Brian McDermott has been very vocal in declaring his ambition to one day manage ‘The Boys in Green’. Despite being sacked as Reading manager, McDermott earned plaudits throughout England for his attacking style of play. Having won the Championship with the Royals following a superb run of 15 wins in 17 games, McDermott found life in the Premier League a much more difficult proposition.

Despite winning the Manager of the Month award for January, McDermott was sacked in March after a run of four successive defeats. However, he left with his reputation intact, as his attacking style of football and never-say-die attitude struck a chord with many fans.

McDermott has a wealth of experience when it comes to working with Irish players, with the likes of kevin Doyle, Shane Long, the brothers Hunt and Stephen Kelly all admitting their admiration for the manager.

McDermott was recently spotted at the Aviva Stadium with Pat Dolan, brother of his former assistant, Eamonn. A McDermott and Dolan super-team would be great news for fans of the League of Ireland and would surely open the door for a number of talented youngsters plying their trade in Ireland’s domestic league.

4. Pat Fenlon

Following a number of high-profile breakdowns in communication during Trapattoni’s reign, many Irish fans have yearned for an English-speaking manager. There has also been a number of shouts for a manager that is well-versed in Irish domestic football.

Pat Fenlon ticks both these boxes and is undoubtedly one of Ireland’s most talented managers. Three League of Ireland titles in four years at Shelbourne, plus two league titles in two years at Bohemians makes for great reading.

Despite an unsuccessful period as manager of Derry City, Fenlon’s credential cannot be questioned. He is currently the manager of Hibernian in the Scottish Premier League. He steered Hibs out of the relegation places and also reached the Scottish Cup Final.

Fenlon also took charge of the Republic of Ireland under-23 team for a number of games. The team consisted of entirely League of Ireland players and will work in his favour when the Irish hot-seat is vacated by Trapattoni.

5. Roy Keane

Say what you like, but there is no doubting that Roy Keane has enjoyed success as a manager. Winning the Championship with Sunderland and subsequently adding stability to the club is a success. A disappointing term with Ipswich Town is something that Keane will want to rectify, with many critics labelling his Stadium of Light success as a fluke.

Despite a ‘rocky’ relationship with the FAI, Keane would command respect from every player. He has often voiced his anger over the ‘small team’ mentality of many people in Ireland and his ambitious streak is something that Ireland would benefit from.

Many critics point to Keane’s transfer dealings as one of his managerial weaknesses. As Ireland manager, this would not be a problem and Keane would learn to work with the players at his disposal.

Keane does not shy from confrontation and would have no problem telling players face-to-face what the are doing wrong and why they are dropped. The Corkonian would not hide behind a text message.

Public opinion of Keane is very divided following the ‘Saipan’ debacle. What better way to win the hearts of the nation than leading the Boys in Green to success at Euro 2016. I smell a Hollywood movie.

6. David O’ Leary

There seems to be an unwritten rule in club and international football stating that David O’ Leary must be linked to every single managerial vacancy. Well, here it is.

Who would you like to see as the next Ireland manager? Have your say:

[polldaddy poll=7004195]

This is a cookie notice. You can replace this cookie notice easily using the theme options from within your WordPress control panel. It will only appear once, with acceptance of the form stored locally.