Belfast Telegraph

O'Leary in line to replace Staunton

Brady is dark horse as hunt begins

By Steven Beacom

David O'Leary is the favourite to take over from Steve Staunton, who was sacked as the Republic of Ireland manager in the early hours of the morning.

Everyone knew it was coming, but it certainly took the Football Association of Ireland long enough to terminate Staunton's contract following an emergency board meeting which began last night.

Staunton took on the job in January 2006. He had no previous management experience but won 102 caps as a player so he certainly knew about international football.

The former Liverpool and Aston Villa ace, though, never convinced and after an embarrassing 5-2 defeat in Cyprus in the European Championship qualifying campaign last year, it always appeared as though he was fighting a losing battle.

More poor results followed and then came an appalling 1-1 draw at home to Cyprus at Croke Park earlier this month. Staunton and his team were booed off the pitch after the final whistle and there was no way back.

FAI chief executive John Delaney said today that appointing outside advisers to head-hunt the successor to Staunton has to be "the way forward".

Delaney is hardly flavour of the month himself and indeed there have been calls for him to go, but he remains in his powerful position for the time being at least.

So, who are the contenders?

Well, the favourite with the bookies, and they are rarely wrong, is Staunton's old international team-mate O'Leary.

The former Arsenal star has managed in the top flight in England and certainly impressed in his early days at Leeds and Aston Villa before it all went sour.

He is out of the game at present and like every other unemployed manager would relish a return to the Premiership, but in the meantime he would be interested in a chance to manage his country.

He may have to fight it out with a man who he knows very well - another Arsenal hero Liam Brady, who apparently has expressed an interest in the post.

Brady is coaching the kids at Arsenal these days, which is a pretty impressive note to have on your CV. Otherwise names like Graeme Souness, Roy Hodgson, Paul Jewell and John Aldridge will be mentioned. Republic fans would love Roy Keane, but that won't happen.

The Republic's under-21 team manager Don Givens will take temporary charge of the senior side for the final Euro 2008 qualifier against Wales on November 17, but don't expect him to get the job full-time.

Meanwhile the Republic stayed in 32nd place in the latest FIFA rankings list announced today. Northern Ireland remain at 36 despite their excellent 1-1 draw in Sweden recently.

See Page 31

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