While the future of the Republic of Ireland senior men’s side under the current management looks bleak, the alternative options aren’t quite the star-studded fantasy line-up we’d all dream of either.
In truth, Martin O’Neill’s tenure is all but over and probably should have ended following the 5-1 defeat against Denmark, but the Derryman has remained in charge.
In the event that the FAI finally pull the plug, these are the five men most likely to take over from him.
You’d have to wonder. McCarthy will always be associated with the best time to support Ireland in the last 25 years, but is nostalgia the only reason why he’s so prominent in the betting?
Obviously if he’s to come in, the whole management team will go because he’s hardly going to work with Roy Keane – even the WWE creative team couldn’t write that one – but it would just be another shot in the dark at a manager whose football is hardly pleasant on the eye, and whose legacy would almost overshadow anything he would do in future.
If anything, McCarthy being top of the betting represents two things: the predictable, safe nature of the FAI’s recruitment process and the lack of serious alternatives that we have.
This one would divide a nation, but at least James McClean would like it.
Neil Lennon has lived off Celtic beating Barcelona now for quite some time, and while his job with Hibs has resulted in him being granted an extension until the summer of 2020, a failed tenure at Bolton Wanderers probably isn’t the barometer you want to set in this particular market.
He may be 20 years younger than Martin O’Neill, but that’s one of very, very few upsides to this potential appointment.
If you ever needed proof that Saipan is the defining Irish footballing narrative of our time, then you need to look no further than this market.
Two of the top three in the betting contested the most divisive issue of public interest since the Civil War.
The funny side of this appointment would be that you’re merely elevating someone from the current regime who was obviously guilty one of the following two things:
Not being strong enough to put across his ideas in coaching sessions where clearly very little was said in the first place; or agreeing with Martin O’Neill’s methodology.
Hmm – next.
The obvious, logical and most pleasing appointment from my point of view. Stephen Kenny brought a League of Ireland team from the doorstep of extinction to being the biggest powerhouse the domestic game has ever seen – and he even picked up point in a Europa League group.
Say what you want about the calibre of the league in question, he’s probably the best manager in the history of the League of Ireland and that should mean something on a national level.
Especially when you consider Dundalk are now a household name in Ireland when, beforehand, the league was treated as a real second-class sporting interest in the country.
Kenny hasn’t just done this through typical Irish stereotypes, either.
He plays incredibly attractive football, has gelled a group of players and consistently replaced the likes of Daryl Horgan, Richie Towell and Pat Hoban – only to go and find adequate replacements and achieve similar feats time and time again.
It’s about time Irish footballing governance rewarded those who excel in Irish football.
If you want to please an entire nation, then Hughton is the selection. He has a long, deep-rooted association with the country as a player and coach in the past, and has always stood out as the one man who fits the bill but has yet to be given the gig.
And the best thing about Hughton is that he’s succeeded at the top level.
Keeping that Brighton team up is an achievement in and of itself, and the link he already has with Shane Duffy would benefit the entire operation.
It’s hard to envisage him actually wanting the job, though.
*All odds correct at time of posting