Belfast Telegraph

Friday 26 December 2014

Martin O'Neill bookies' favourite for Republic job after departure of Giovanni Trapattoni

Ex-Celtic boss Martin O'Neill is hot favourite to succeed Giovanni Trapattoni as manager of the Republic of Ireland football team
Ex-Celtic boss Martin O'Neill is hot favourite to succeed Giovanni Trapattoni as manager of the Republic of Ireland football team
Former Northern Ireland International Martin O'Neill during a Pro Am at Galgorm Castle near Ballymena in Co Antrim during the Northern Ireland Open Challenge
Former Northern Ireland International Martin O'Neill during a Pro Am at Galgorm Castle near Ballymena in Co Antrim during the Northern Ireland Open Challenge
Former Northern Ireland International Martin O'Neill during a Pro Am at Galgorm Castle near Ballymena in Co Antrim during the Northern Ireland Open Challenge
Giovanni Trapattoni
Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni

Former Celtic boss and Northern Ireland international Martin O'Neill is hot favourite to succeed Giovanni Trapattoni as manager of the Republic following the Italian's departure ‘by mutual consent’ today.

The Italian manager was under increasing pressure after defeats by Sweden and Austria in recent days left Ireland’s hopes of qualifying for the World Cup next year in tatters.

It  followed a dismal showing at the European Championships last summer.

In a statement, the Football Association of Ireland confirmed that Trapattoni and his assistant Marco Tardelli  have left their posts “following an amicable meeting this morning”,

Giovanni Trapattoni said: “I want to thank everyone in Ireland who has given us their support during our time here which has always meant a lot to us

“We leave this country with emotion because we understand the Irish supporters who have a well-deserved international reputation and they have our utmost respect. I would like to thank  John Delaney, Paddy Mc Caul, Michael Cody and the FAI Board for their support and friendship over the last five and a half years.

“I would also want to thank all FAI staff members, including the backroom team and the players who have been great to work with during the last three campaigns. I wish them well in the future and hope that the job we have done leaves everything in a good place for my successor to take over.

Who are the frontrunners to fill Trap's boots?

Martin O'Neill

Odds: 2/1 favourite

Age: 61

Experience: Wycombe, Norwich, Leicester, Celtic, Aston Villa, Sunderland

Why? O'Neill was already reportedly approached earlier this year following his sacking by Sunderland; he was also a previous candidate but family circumstances forced him out of the running.

Passionate, committed and averse to suffering fools, O'Neill is a renowned man-manager and he earned a reputation for improving clubs and leaving them in much better shape than when he arrived. Also first to discover James McClean.

Why not? Didn't leave Sunderland in a better position than when he had arrived and it is questionable whether his messianic qualities retain real or mythical status.

Currently unemployed but then there's a reason for that, isn't there? And his playing style? Think disciple of Trapattoni.

Mick McCarthy

Odds: 7/1

Age: 54

Experience: Millwall, Ireland, Sunderland, Wolves, Ipswich.

Why? Been there and worn the T-shirt as the last manager to qualify Ireland for a World Cup, and feels he has unfinished business. Remains extremely popular with many of the current players and developed a style, after lengthy teething problems, that was relatively pleasing on the eye.

Has an escape clause – albeit one that may have prompted a no-fee release had it been triggered during the summer – and debatable how committed he is to dragging another sleeping giant into the Premier League.

Why not? After being showered with boos from the Lansdowne Road audience – although who hasn't? – difficult to understand why he would want to return to the international arena. Is doing well at Ipswich and a return to the Premier League is surely top of his agenda.

Oh, and all that Saipan stuff. Awkward for fickle, prickly sensitive Irish types.

Roy Keane

Odds: 10/1

Age: 42

Experience: Sunderland, Ipswich

Why? Has already told the FAI that he is interested in the job. Understands Irish football and the need to create a coherent structure from bottom to top – and not top to bottom as many currently believe.

Clearly passionate, would need to locate a decent coaching structure and not the obsequious types that predominantly surrounded him during a brief managerial career that has had many promising moments.

Why not? When his inoffensive punditry – recall his views on Nani's red card in last season's Champions League – can cause a national debate, then it is hardly surprising to see the amount of baggage his appointment can bring.

Irish football suffers enough from an inability to be searingly self-critical and Keane's presence would be too much for too many inadequate figures in the game here. Oh, and all that Saipan stuff. Still awkward.

Chris Hughton

Odds: 12/1

Age: 54

Experience: Newcastle, Birmingham, Norwich.

Why? Another who, from his time involved with Kerr and the late, great Noel O'Reilly, appreciates the Irish football culture and would not be involved with the job for the sake of either his ego or his wallet.

His management career does not scream headlines. But, regardless of the tools at his disposal, he invests his teams with faith, trust and an innate sense that they can over-achieve once they are provided with the support.

Why not? A significant swathe of the current squad, who thumbed their noses at pre-match analysis and hospital visits, would not be enamoured by a remnant of the Brian Kerr era. And, although he doesn't threaten the pigeons with his approach to football, he does tend towards the archly conservative in approach.

Brian McDermott

Odds: 16/1

Age: 52

Experience: Slough, Woking, Reading, Leeds.

Why? Proponents of the new wave get excitable when this guy's name is mentioned. Despite making a "mistake" when opting to align himself with England at a young age, has gone to great lengths to re-establish his Irish identity.

His playing style is aesthetically pleasing enough too and, unlike some other lazily propagated candidates like David O'Leary or O'Neill, he is a manager on the rise, rather than decline.

Why not? Inexperience may be his greatest stumbling block and one wonders whether the self-styled greatest football fans in the world would be patient enough to persist with a manager who is likely to mention the dreaded 'project' word should he get the gig. Has already been seen sidling up to leading figures in Irish football and an ingratiating manner like that is a bit of a turn-off.

Marco Tardelli

Odds: 20/1 Age: 58

Experience: Inter, Bari, Egypt

Why? Trap's No 2 will inevitably become a candidate because the boisterous sidekick will play up his claims enough to ensure that he becomes one.

Why not? Being inextricably linked with a management ticket that was chased out of town is hardly the best negotiating position.

Rene Meulensteen

Odds: n/a Age: 49

Experience: Brondy, Anzhi

Why? An easy default position for the FAI is to go Dutch – and maybe go Dutch with Denis O'Brien to pay this salary too. After all, the current director of development is a Dutch man.

If this guy – a former Manchester United assistant – can improve Cristiano Ronaldo, then surely he can work some magic on Conor Sammon? Then again, maybe not.

Why not? Unproven pedigree. And why should Irish football swoon at somebody just because faux intellectual soccer types are his cheerleaders?

Nobody had heard of the current FAI high-performance director before he got the job. Funnily enough, they still haven't.

Pat Fenlon

Odds: 25/1 Age: 44

Experience: Shelbourne, Derry, Bohemians, Hibernian

Why? The former Shelbourne and Bohemians manager is an Irish football coach who came through the system and the Dubliner is also somebody who has shown that he allows his players to express themselves.

Why not? After the shameful manner in which Brian Kerr was treated, Irish football will never be mature enough to propagate one of their own. Fenlon has also struggled with a step up in class, despite occasional flurries with Hibernian in Scotland.

Terry Venables

Odds: 25/1 Age: 70

Why? Fulfills the criteria of being a personality. Purveyor of the beautiful game and architect of England's last meaningful tournament achievement in Euro '96.

Why not? Filed alongside Queens Park Rangers manager Harry Redknapp and a vast host of usual suspects – including Graeme Souness and Paul Jewell – who will be interested in the gig only for what it has to offer them and not the other way around.

 

Making the announcement, FAI Chief Executive John Delaney said,

“We thank Giovanni Trapattoni, Marco Tardelli and Franco Rossi for the last five and a half years during which we qualified for our first major tournament in ten years and were close to qualification for 2010 World Cup in South Africa after the play-off in France.

“This particular World Cup campaign has been disappointing but Giovanni leaves us with a group of good young players which should form the basis of the squad that the new manager will use for the European Championships in France 2016 when 24 teams qualify.”

The Board of the FAI will meet in due course to discuss the process in relation to the appointment of a new manager, the FAI added.

Timeline of Trapattoni's career

1939: Born, March 17 in Cusano Milanino.

1959: Signed as a defender by AC Milan.

1962: Wins first Scudetto as a player with AC Milan.

1963: Part of the AC Milan side which wins the European Cup for the first time with a 2-1 win over Benfica.

1960: Represents the Italian football team at the Olympics in Rome.

1962: Plays for Italy at the World Cup in Chile.

1967: Wins Serie A and Coppa Italia double with AC Milan.

1968: Lifts European Cup Winners' Cup with AC Milan.

1969: Collects second European Cup winners medal with AC Milan.

1971: Makes last of 387 professional appearances for AC Milan before he signed for lower league side AS Varese.

1972: Retires from playing.

1974: Appointed youth team coach at AC Milan.

1975: Made AC Milan first-team coach and his team finish as runners-up in the Coppa Italia.

1976: Appointed Juventus coach.

1977: Steers Juventus to a Serie A and UEFA Cup double.

1978: Claims consecutive Serie A title with Juventus.

1979: Juventus win Coppa Italia.

1981: Wins third league title with Juventus.

1982: Delivers fourth Serie A title as Juventus boss.

1983: Wins second Coppa Italia for Juventus.

1984: Takes fifth Serie A title to Turin and wins the European Cup Winners Cup with a 2-1 win over FC Porto in Basel.

1985: Manages Juventus to a 1-0 European Cup victory over Liverpool but the match is overshadowed by disaster off the pitch at the Heysel Stadium.

1986: Wins sixth Serie A title with Juventus before he returning to Milan to manage Inter Milan.

1989: Inter win Serie A title under Trapattoni.

1991: Guides Inter to a 2-1 aggregate UEFA Cup final victory over Roma before he returns for a second spell at Juventus.

1994: Finishes twice as Serie A runners-up with Juventus before leaving to join Bayern Munich.

1995: Returns to Serie A for a brief period in charge of Cagliari.

1996: Second spell with Bayern Munich.

1997: Leads Bayern to Bundesliga title.

1998: Bayern finish runners-up in the Bundesliga but win the domestic cup.

June: Returns to Serie A to manage Fiorentina.

2000: Replaces Dino Zoff as Italy manager.

2002: Leads Italy to the World Cup in Japan and South Korea. Italy suffer a surprise second-round exit at the hands of South Korea. Trapattoni is blamed for an overly-defensive brand of football and not taking Roberto Baggio.

2004: June: Italy are knocked out of Euro 2004 in Portugal at the group stage on goal difference after draws against Denmark and Sweden and a victory over Bulgaria.

July: Contract with Italian FA not renewed and Trapattoni is named coach of Benfica.

2005: Ends Benfica's 11-year wait for the Portuguese league title but resigns at the end of the season to take the coach's position at Stuttgart.

2006: February: Sacked by Stuttgart after 20 games in charge.

May: Swiss side Red Bull Salzburg appoint Trapattoni as director of football with former Germany international Lothar Matthaus as first-team coach.

2008: February 11 - Agrees in principle to take over as Republic of Ireland manager.

May 28 - First game in charge is a 1-1 draw with Serbia.

2009: September: Signs a new contract through to 2012.

November 18 - Presides over the World Cup play-off loss to France, which is decided after Thierry Henry's handball controversy.

2011: Guides Ireland to Euro 2012 with a play-off win over Estonia.

2012: Given a new two-year contract.

June - Ireland disappoint at Euro 2012, losing group games to Spain, Italy and Croatia.

October - Ireland lose a World Cup qualifier 6-1 to Germany.

2013: September 11 - After back-to-back defeats against Sweden and Austria leave the Republic out of contention to qualify for the 2014 World Cup, Trapattoni leaves his post as Republic manager. His departure is by "mutual consent", the Football Association of Ireland announce.

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