Belfast Telegraph

Sports Awards

Who will be the next Republic of Ireland boss? A look at the key contenders as Mick McCarthy favourite while Neil Lennon odds tumble

Scroll down to have your say in our poll

Martin O'Neill's five-year stint as Republic of Ireland boss is over.

O'Neill and assistant Roy Keane left their jobs on Wednesday morning following crunch talks with FAI chief executive John Delaney.

So just who will the FAI turn to in order to improve the fortunes of a Republic side that has not scored in four successive matches and is without a competitive victory since October 2017?

Here are the leading contenders (odds via Paddy Power - correct on Thursday morning):

1. Mick McCarthy 5/6

McCarthy led the RoI from February 1996 to November 2002 and reports suggest he is open to a return, possibly with record goal-scorer Robbie Keane as his assistant.

The highlight of his six year reign was qualification for the 2002 World Cup finals, which was overshadowed by the infamous training ground bust-up with Roy Keane, who was sent home before the tournament began. McCarthy went on to guide both Sunderland and Wolves to promotion to the Premiership before a six-year spell at Ipswich. McCarthy left the Tractor Boys in April, abruptly announcing his departure in a post-match press conference following a 1-0 win over Barnsley. When asked about the supporters' negative reaction to his decision to substitute debutant Barry Cotter, he said: "I won't have to listen to that again, that's my last game. I'm out of here."

PANews BT_1bc2d89c-ddab-4e30-9bb3-2abed1a26daa_I1.jpg
Mick McCarthy guided Ireland to 13th in the world

2. Stephen Kenny 2/1

Dundalk boss Stephen Kenny began at 4/1 but by mid-afternoon on Wednesday, had been backed in. The latest reports suggest the FAI instead see Kenny as the new U21 boss but the man himself has designs on the top job.

The last manager to go from the League of Ireland into international football has done ok. Could the Republic follow Northern Ireland's lead by appointing Kenny? NI swooped to bring in Michael O'Neill in 2011, just a few weeks after he left Shamrock Rovers, having guided the Dublin club to successive League of Ireland titles. Kenny had led Dundalk to the league crown four times in the past five years, only losing out to Cork in 2017. Kenny began his senior managerial career aged just 27 when he took over at Longford Town. Since then, he has won a plethora of trophies at six clubs including Derry City, who he led to the First Division title and five cup successes across two spells.

PANews BT_P-e671bb0e-5762-4f3c-be85-7bb4aa84aee9_I1.png
Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny

3. Neil Lennon 16/1

The Lurgan man was out at 33/1 on Wednesday afternoon but was soon backed in to joint third favourite. Lennon led Celtic to three consecutive league titles from 2012 to 2014 before leaving for Bolton on a four year deal. Despite successfully avoiding relegation from the Championship in his first season, Lennon didn't see out the second, departing by mutual consent with the club bottom of the table. A return to Scotland has yielded better fortunes, including promotion to the Scottish Premiership and a fourth place finish last season.

Neil Lennon

4. Carlos Queiroz 16/1

The former Real Madrid manager is interested in taking over in Dublin, according to reports on Wednesday. Currently in charge of Iran, Queiroz has already confirmed his will leave that role after January's Asian Cup. He has increased his international reputation during his eight-year spell in charge, qualifying for back to back World Cup. Queiroz has managed at four of the last five World Cup finals, leading Portugal through qualification in 2010 and South Africa in 2002.

Would Iran coach Carlos Queiroz be a smart move for the FAI?

5. Chris Hughton 20/1

The Brighton boss has been backed in from 40/1 and could be a popular choice, if he could be prised away from Premier League side Brighton. Hughton played for Ireland 53 times and is earning respect for the job he's doing on the south coast. Since taking over almost four years ago, the 59-year-old has earned promotion to the top tier and led his side to a 16th place finish last season. Brighton are currently 12th.

Chris Hughton has impressed at Brighton (Owen Humphreys/PA)

6. Sam Allardyce 25/1

The former England boss is currently out of work, having left Everton at the end of last season. He guided the Merseyside club to eighth position but fans were unhappy with his style of play. Allardyce managed England for just two months and one match in 2016 before leaving by mutual consent after an undercover investigation by the Telegraph. Allardyce is no stranger to football in Ireland, having begun his managerial career as player/manager at Limerick.

PANews BT_P-b1ea8032-f617-4020-a9dc-0ac0557210f9_I1.jpg
Sam Allardyce

7. Brian Kerr 33/1

McCarthy isn't the only former RoI boss being tipped for a return. Kerr led the senior side from 2003 to 2005 but despite losing just one of 10 qualification games for the 2006 World Cup, didn't make it to either that or the Euro 2004 finals. The RoI finished fourth in their group, a point behind runners-up Switzerland in the 2006 World Cup qualifying campaign. After that, he spent a year as St Pat's Athletic's Director of Football and coached the Faroe Islands to some impressive results, including a 1-1 draw with Northern Ireland. He has not managed since leaving the Faroe Islands in 2011.

Could Brian Kerr take on a second stint as Republic of Ireland manager?

8. Sven Goran Eriksson 33/1

Another name to emerge during Wednesday afternoon is former England manager Sven Goran Eriksson. The Swede spent five years in charge of the Three Lions, guiding the side to two World Cup quarter-finals and a last eight appearance at Euro 2004. Since then, he has taken charge of five clubs, including Manchester City and Leicester as well as a spell in China. He has gained more international experience with Mexico and Ivory Coast and was appointed as manager of the Philippines last month. He won two of his first three games in charge, drawing with Thailand the same day O'Neill departed RoI.

Sven-Goran Eriksson reached three quarter-finals with England.

9. Steve Bruce 33/1

Another experienced boss currently on the look-out for a job is the former Aston Villa chief. He left the Championship club last month following a poor run of form saw the club win one game in 10.

Steve Bruce

The Outsiders

Ireland's record goal-scorer Robbie Keane is 40/1 to get the top job himself. Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill was available at 25/1 on Wednesday morning but has drifted to 66/1. The real outsider in Eamon Dunphy, who you can get at 500/1.

Have your say

Belfast Telegraph Digital

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.


From Belfast Telegraph