Belfast Telegraph

IFA board get the ball rolling in hunt for new boss

By Stuart McKinley

The Irish FA board last night gave the go-ahead for the association to start the process of employing a new international manager.

The all-powerful nine-man committee ticked that particular box last night to kick-start the mechanism that will see Nigel Worthington’s successor appointed.

And that appointment is almost certain to be made in January, before the Windsor Park friendly against Norway on February 29 next year.

There have been suggestions that an interim boss will take charge of the team for that game, but that can be ruled out as a non-starter.

The board’s collective nod may seem an obvious step, but it is also an essential part of putting the wheels in motion as the IFA go about filling the vacant position.

“The board have given their approval for things to proceed as we go about appointing a new manager for the international team,” IFA President Jim Shaw told the Belfast Telegraph.

“It is only a small step, but it had to be done in order to start the process.

“We can’t act without the approval of the board, but now we can move on and go about making an appointment.”

It has taken two-and-a-half weeks for the ball to start rolling, but nothing could be done until last night’s board meeting was completed.

It is unlikely that the IFA will advertise the international manager’s post. Instead they will consider the credentials of those who have already been put forward as candidates for the job.

Shaw and chief executive Patrick Nelson will front the search for the new boss, backed by the other eight members of the board.

There is also the possibility that they may head-hunt the individual who they feel is the best man to take Northern Ireland football forward.

Jim Magilton and Iain Dowie appear to be the frontrunners, with another former international skipper Martin O’Neill declaring himself out of the race — much to the disappointment of many fans.

Shamrock Rovers manager Michael O’Neill is the other main contender, with others, including former bosses Sammy McIlroy and Lawrie Sanchez, a long-shot.

Worthington isn’t the only manager in Northern Ireland’s Euro 2012 qualifying group to leave his post.

Indeed Brian Kerr’s failure to agree a new contract with the Faroe Islands FA means that only group winners Italy and runners-up Estonia — who face the Republic of Ireland in a two-legged play-off next month — have a manager in place after Serbia and Slovenia dispensed with their international bosses.

Kerr has been linked to the Northern Ireland job and his odds shortened following the breakdown of his negotiations with the Faroes.

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