Belfast Telegraph

Sanchez can be the new Big Jack

Armstrong tells Lawrie to net the Republic job

By Mark McIntosh

Gerry Armstrong has backed Lawrie Sanchez to become the new Republic of Ireland manager - and insisted he could become the new Jack Charlton.

Sanchez is set for an interview with the Football Association of Ireland's three-man panel of Don Givens, Don Howe and Ray Houghton with a view to taking over from Steve Staunton.

It's a move that runs the risk of angering his many Northern Ireland fans.

The ex-Wycombe Wanderers boss was sacked by Premier League strugglers Fulham last month but he has emerged as a serious contender to Terry Venables for the Republic hot-seat.

His odds on landing the job were slashed from 40-1 to 18-1 by one bookmaker yesterday as speculation gathered pace that the former Northern Ireland manager was prepared to go south.

And Armstrong, who worked as Sanchez's assistant for two years with Northern Ireland, has backed Sanchez to be a success if he is given the opportunity.

"From what I was hearing, Johnny Giles and Liam Brady were going to be offered the Republic job so I was very surprised to hear Lawrie was in the frame," said Armstrong.

"But now that he has got an interview, there is no reason why he shouldn't get the job.

"He didn't have a good time at Fulham but he has proved himself at international level and I'm sure the FAI will think they can offer him better players to work with. I know some Northern Ireland fans will be annoyed at him going for an interview for the Republic job but at the end of the day he is a manager out of work and the Republic job is an attractive proposition.

"If he was given the chance, I'm sure he could do for the Republic what Jack Charlton achieved in the nineties. He brought his own style to the job and was extremely effective - just like Lawrie was with Northern Ireland."

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland fans have reacted with surprise and anger over the news that Sanchez is to be interviewed for the Republic job.

Sanchez was adored by the Green and White Army during his three year reign in charge, especially with those famous victories over England, Spain and Sweden.

Roger Campbell said: "It would be quite ironic if he did get the job, what with him being the president of the London Northern Ireland Supporters' Club.

"Quite how all this stands with Lawrie saying that he missed the day-to-day involvement with players I'm not sure.

"It would certainly add a bit of spice to the Celtic tournament if he comes to Windsor as manager of the Republic of Ireland."

Bangor NISC member Ian McKinney blamed the IFA for not making an attempt to bring Sanchez back.

"Lawrie always made it clear that he was here to do a professional job," he said. "I'd still have him back now, but the fact that the IFA made it clear Nigel Worthington was the only man for the job has obviously ruled that out."

Belfast Telegraph


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