The Republic of Ireland national side look stuck in a firmer rut than the container ship lodged in the Suez Canal. Since taking over his nation, manager Stephen Kenny is yet to see his side win any of the 10 games he’s been in charge of, and Ireland have only netted a miserable three goals in that period.
It has to be said, Kenny has been attempting to overturn a deep-rooted culture of hoof-and-hope football since he was given reins. It’s led to a culture war between supporters calling for the former Dundalk boss to be allowed time to implement his style changes and those who believe that results are the be-all and end-all, whatever way they come.
However, that conversation took a massive turn on Saturday evening as Ireland slumped to a 1-0 home defeat to minnows Luxembourg in a victory that visitors to the Aviva Stadium have every right to say they deserved. It was a result that has legitimate claims to being the worst in Irish football history and has ramped up the pressure on Kenny’s position.
But, who could be the next man up to replace Kenny were the axe to fall soon? Well, our punters have been putting their cash behind a former Celtic boss to occupy the hot seat.
That’s right, Neil Lennon has had his price drop in from an outside 14/1 right into second favourite in the betting after punters rushed to back him to take over The Boys In Green following Saturday’s shambolic defeat. Lennon – who was capped 40 times for Northern Ireland – left Celtic for a second time in February as their campaign to win a 10th Scottish title in-a-row came completely unstuck as Rangers left them in the dust this season.
Lennon did win five league crowns and a further five domestic cups in his time in charge of The Bhoys though, and with him being currently available it’s no surprise to see him being a popular choice with our customers to take charge of Ireland.
Former Ireland assistant boss Roy Keane, who served as deputy to Martin O’Neill when the country qualified for Euro 2016, is the current favorite in the market. But he may also have eyes on the position at Celtic Park just vacated by Lennon.
Current assistant coach Keith Andrews follows Lennon in the betting, but with him being so fresh in his coaching career it would seem unlikely Ireland would turn to someone so inexperienced to replace Kenny given their plight at the moment.
The recently retired Robbie Keane is another intriguing prospect. His 2002 World Cup team-mate Damien Duff is also right up there, and his coaching credentials are certainly more attractive than those of Andrews and Robbie Keane. However, he did just leave the Kenny set up in January for reasons he refused to explain publicly, so he may be hesitant to be brought back under the FAI umbrella again quite so quickly.
Newcastle boss Steve Bruce is the first name from outside of Irish shores in the market and with the form of The Magpies lately, he could find himself available without a compensation packet to be negotiated. Interesting, of the foreign options available, Eddie Howe and Jose Mourinho sit on the same odds to be the next leader of The Boys In Green.
The Republic of Ireland meet Qatar on Tuesday night (19.45) at the Nagyerdei Stadion in Hungary in a game that is no gimme for Kenny’s outfit. A heavy defeat to the World Cup hosts – a tournament Ireland now look to have no hope of qualifying for – could see the FAI on the hunt for new ideas and a new man in charge.
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