Ireland Needs More Time in Search for Their New Boss

Ireland appears to buy more time by naming the interim manager recently after overlooking the available experienced candidates.

The Republic of Ireland’s search for Stephen Kenny’s successor appears to take longer than expected. The FAI has been unable to select one prior to the friendly games in late March. They have even reportedly snubbed the available experienced names, such as former Wales boss Chris Coleman, ex-Celtic manager Neil Lennon, and two former Ireland internationals, Damien Duff and Roy Keane. The Irish football governing body eventually opted to name Stephen Kenny’s assistant, John O’Shea, as the caretaker.

The former Manchester United man is set to take charge of two matches against Belgium and Switzerland on March 24 and 27. He will be accompanied by Glenn Whelan and Paddy McCarthy as the interim assistant managers, René Gilmartin as the interim goalkeeping coach, and temporary technical advisor Brian Kerr. He was at the helm of The Boys in Green from 2003 to 2005. The new boss will reportedly be unveiled in April.

Ireland will play two more friendlies in June against Hungary and Portugal before beginning their official UEFA Nations League B campaign. They are seeded in the same group as Finland, Greece, and England, who were relegated due to their dismal results in the previous edition.

Several names have been linked to the vacant post, from the well-known foreign figures to the former players and native managers. It is still unclear who will be chosen eventually. Interestingly, Ireland has historically performed better under foreign managers.

They qualified for five major tournaments while the foreign manager was in charge. Englishman Jack Charlton, Italian Giovanni Trapattoni, and Northern Ireland manager Martin O’Neill were the ones who led them to secure berths in EURO 1988, the 1990 and 1994 FIFA World Cup, EURO 2012, and 2016, respectively. Meanwhile, Mick McCarthy was the only native manager capable of bringing them to a major international competition. It was their FIFA World Cup’s last appearance in Japan/Korea 2002.

Here are the potential candidates for Stephen Kenny’s replacement.

Slaven Bilić

The Croatian boss is the most recent foreign manager linked to an Irish job. He has a fairly impressive CV with the Croatia national team and West Ham United, as he guided the former to the EURO 2008 quarterfinals and the latter to finish seventh in the 2015/16 Premier League campaign.

Yet, his tenure at Lokomotiv Moscow, Beşiktaş, West Bromwich, and Watford was more disappointing than satisfying. Bilić is currently the manager of Saudi club Al Fateh, and his contract runs until June 2025. Moreover, he would not be able to take charge of Seamus Coleman and co until May, should he accept the offer, which presents another challenge for the FAI.

Gustavo Poyet

The Chelsea star in the 1990s has been a popular choice among fans to be Stephen Kenny’s successor. However, he confirmed that no one had contacted him about the future opportunity with The Boys in Green. The current Greece boss is focusing on the EURO 2024 playoff at the end of this month. Nevertheless, the fact that Greece has yet to offer him a contract extension may give the FAI hope for signing the Uruguayan. Poyet is likely to be unattached in early April if no new contract is given.

Poyet has vast experience in England, France, and Spain. He promoted Brighton to the second tier in 2011 and Sunderland to the EFL Cup final in 2014. Unfortunately, his spells at Bordeaux and Betis were not memorable. He led the former to sixth place in 2018, but was let go in the middle of the season by the latter.

Lee Carsley

The 50-year-old coach is tipped to be the favourite, despite his lack of experience taking charge of the senior team. He rose to prominence after leading England U21 to their first European Championship since 1984. Carsley previously worked as a caretaker for Birmingham City in 2017 before joining England’s youth side. However, he reportedly distanced himself from the rumour due to his commitment to the English FA.

Anthony Barry

He is currently working as Thomas Tuchel’s assistant at Bayern Munich and Roberto Martinez’s in the Portugal national team. The former Wrexham man worked for the Boys in Green under Stephen Kenny in 2021/2022, with brief stints with the Belgium national team, Chelsea, and Wigan Athletic in the mix. He is expected to leave the post at Bayern too, following his German boss’ exit at the end of the season, if not sooner.

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