Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

'Martin O'Neill could do Republic job standing on his head'

New Republic of Ireland boss could face Germany

Martin O'Neill has been tipped to take over as Republic of Ireland manager
Martin O'Neill has been tipped to take over as Republic of Ireland manager
Football Association of Ireland chief executive John Delaney
Football Association of Ireland chief executive John Delaney

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert believes Martin O'Neill is the ideal candidate to replace Giovanni Trapattoni as Republic of Ireland manager.

He said: "There's no doubt about it, he could do the job standing on his head. No problem.

"I've always said he's a fantastic manager and it would be up to him whether he'd want to go into international football or go back to club football.

"I don't know but whoever takes him has got a great manager."

Football Association of Ireland chief executive John Delaney has admitted that, in an ideal world, he would like to have Giovanni Trapattoni's replacement in place in time for next month's World Cup qualifiers against Group C leaders Germany - who won 6-1 at the Aviva Stadium in October last year - and Kazakhstan.

Delaney told Sky Sports News: "Ideally it would be nice to have a manager in place for the games in October, but that's not a must because it's 12 months until we play our first European qualifiers in September.

"It's important that we get the right man in so we qualify for France 2016."

Martin O'Neill remains the overwhelming bookmakers' favourite with one bookmaker offering odds of 4/7 for his appointment.

It is understood the 61-year-old Ulsterman, who has been out of work since being sacked by Sunderland in March, is open to an approach, while former Ireland manager Mick McCarthy, currently in charge at Ipswich, has not distanced himself from speculation linking him to the vacancy.

However, Norwich boss Chris Hughton and Leeds counterpart Brian McDermott, who were both mentioned - along with O'Neill, McCarthy and Roy Keane - by Delaney as prospective candidates in a radio interview on Wednesday, have ruled themselves out.

Former Republic full-back Hughton said: "I was very proud to play for Ireland and I always want to see Ireland winning football matches, but my responsibility is here [at Norwich].

"The club has shown great faith in me. They have spent very big in the summer. There is a project here, one started before I got here, and it is a challenge I am very much looking forward to.

"There will be some very good names mentioned. I don't know which way they will go, but there won't be any shortage of candidates."

That list, however, will not include the name of McDermott, who spoke with his club's managing director David Haigh and chief executive Paul Hunt on Wednesday to clarify his intentions.

Asked if he was interested in the job, he said: "No. My situation is that one day I want to manage the Republic of Ireland, but at this moment I'm at a fantastic football club.

"I have kind of been adopted here and feel I owe this club and I owe these supporters. They are really important to me."

However, McDermott did admit he was flattered to have been linked with the post.

He said: "My reaction is immense pride more than anything. I was sitting with my very good friend last night in my flat and we were looking at the Sky Bet odds.

"Martin O'Neill was top and I was second. If you consider I've been a manager now at this level for four years and to get to that, for me, there's nothing but pride, so I'm probably doing something right, which is good.

"Everybody knows what I feel about Ireland, my family, my history and how important that is to me, so those would be the words that I would use, incredible pride."

The Keane camp was remaining tight-lipped on Thursday, and Delaney would not be drawn on his chances of being appointed after his infamous departure from Saipan in 2002.

Delaney said: "It would be an interesting appointment, but it's probably inappropriate for me to comment on individuals because if I start talking about one being ruled in or ruled out, that wouldn't be correct for me.

"We are going to get a new manager and that manager's objectives will be to get us to the European Championship in 2016.

"Football, as we all know, tends to surprise us, but I wouldn't read anything in to someone being a favourite or not being a favourite."

 

NEW REPUBLIC MANAGER: CONTENDERS

Giovanni Trapattoni's reign as Republic of Ireland manager is over after defeat in Austria effectively ended the nation's hopes of World Cup qualification.

Here, Press Association Sport takes a look at some of the contenders for the vacancy.

MARTIN O'NEILL

Former Sunderland boss O'Neill is available after being shown the door at the Stadium of Light in March. The 61-year-old Northern Irishman has already been installed as the bookmakers' favourite, although it is understood he had not been contacted before Tuesday's 1-0 defeat at the Ernst Happel Stadion.

MICK McCARTHY

It was McCarthy who took Ireland to the 2002 World Cup finals in the Far East, where then skipper Roy Keane's differences with the Republic set-up infamously came to a head. The current Ipswich boss had more than six years in charge of the country for which he played, and like O'Neill, the 54-year-old would enjoy popular support if he was appointed.

CHRIS HUGHTON

Hughton, 54, remains a hugely popular figure in Ireland, for whom he won 53 senior caps. An accomplished coach, he has established an enviable reputation as a manager after first stepping into the limelight at Newcastle, whom he guided back into the Barclays Premier League following relegation, and has impressed at both Birmingham and current club Norwich since.

ROY KEANE

For many, Keane would be the perfect man to shake things up with his no-holds-barred approach to the game. Currently working as a television pundit, the 42-year-old Cork man cut his teeth as a manager at Sunderland, winning promotion to the Premier League at the first attempt, and later guided Ipswich to the semi-finals of the Carling Cup.

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