Belfast Telegraph

Former Premier League midfielder a shock applicant to become next Coleraine manager

Former Aston Villa midfielder George Boateng
Former Aston Villa midfielder George Boateng

By Steven Beacom in the Sunday Life

While 'ideal candidate' Oran Kearney is remaining at St Mirren, there is one surprising name to put his name in the frame to become Coleraine's next manager.

It can be revealed that ex-Aston Villa and Middlesbrough midfielder George Boateng is a shock applicant for the post.

The 43-year-old former Dutch international did his coaching badges with the Irish FA and, having managed at underage level with Blackburn Rovers, is believed to fancy taking charge at first-team level.

Boateng is an outsider, however, with Coleraine keen to appoint someone with a strong knowledge of the Irish League which, in turn, may make it difficult for ex-Hamilton Academical boss Martin Canning and Sam Allardyce's long time assistant Neil McDonald, who have expressed an interest in the Showgrounds hotseat.

Former Cliftonville chief Gerard Lyttle would relish a return to Irish League management and he has admirers on the Coleraine board, while another ex-Solitude supremo, Barry Gray, could be in the mix, along with some Championship managers who have applied.

The board will assess the existing coaching staff. William Murphy, Trevor McKendry and Paul Owens worked brilliantly under Kearney when he inspired the Bannsiders to Irish Cup glory last year and, although things weren't the same under McAree, the trio are highly respected at the club.

With the closing date for applications over, influential chairman Colin McKendry and his board are determined to move forward with the process, conduct interviews and hope to announce a new boss in the next couple of weeks.

By then, Kearney will be busy preparing for the new season in Scotland.

Last weekend, he was the toast of Paisley after keeping St Mirren in the top flight, overcoming Dundee United in a penalty shoot-out in the play-offs.

Given the state of the club when he took over in September and the belief in Scotland throughout the season that the Buddies would be relegated, staving off the drop was an extraordinary effort from Kearney. Indeed, it is viewed as one of the top managerial feats of the season in Scotland.

Kearney showed he could deliver while making regular trips back home to see his wife, Lauren, and children, who still live in Northern Ireland.

In the aftermath of the play-off victory, Saints players talked at length about how Kearney transformed the team's fortunes. They are desperate for him to stay, as are the fans.

He intends on doing that, even though trusty assistant Jimmy Nicholl, who Kearney brought in mid-campaign, has left to be James McPake's number two at relegated Dundee.

On the Coleraine job, Bannsiders chairman McKendry said: "If Oran was available, of course he would be the ideal candidate, but we don't believe that is the case.

"Our plan is to compile a shortlist and come up with the right person to take charge of Coleraine and move our club forward."

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